In a confidential assessment of the war in Afghanistan leaked last week to the Washington Post, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal warns that without additional troops the conflict “will likely result in failure.” President Obama and his advisers are now reviewing the report, and will likely receive a request for an estimated 10,000 to 40,000 troops.
McChrystal’s report calls for expanding a counterinsurgency campaign announced in March to “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat” al-Qaida in the region. The strategy turns many aspects of traditional warfare on its head, emphasizing the importance of protecting civilians over just engaging insurgents, restricting airstrikes to reduce civilian casualties and sharply expanding the Afghan security forces and accelerating their training.
But the release of the report comes at a time when there is growing concern about America’s eight-year involvement in Afghanistan and confusion as to the guiding strategy in the region. Obama has declared Afghanistan a “war of necessity,” but increasing levels of violence and allegations of ballot fraud in the country’s recent presidential election have eroded support for the war.
Some of Obama’s advisers have called for significantly different approaches to the war. Vice President Joe Biden, for example, has urged Obama to adopt a strategy focusing on military strikes against al-Qaida in Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan, which would likely require fewer troops.
Obama has scheduled at least five meetings with his national security team over the next weeks to re-examine the strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, two of which will be held this week. He has not said when he will announce his decision.
Should the U.S. commit more troops to Afghanistan? Why or why not?