Petraeus: Yes, we need more troops for Afghanistan

posted at 9:31 pm on September 23, 2009 by Allahpundit

No surprise that he backs McChrystal, but given his record in Iraq, saying so obviously carries a lot of political weight. On the other side, leading the “no more troops” charge inside the administration: Um … Joe Biden, who of course opposed the surge too.

Among the alternatives being presented to Mr. Obama is Mr. Biden’s suggestion to revamp the strategy altogether. Instead of increasing troops, officials said, Mr. Biden proposed scaling back the overall American military presence. Rather than trying to protect the Afghan population from the Taliban, American forces would concentrate on strikes against Qaeda cells, primarily in Pakistan, using special forces, Predator missile attacks and other surgical tactics.

The Americans would accelerate training of Afghan forces and provide support as they took the lead against the Taliban. But the emphasis would shift to Pakistan. Mr. Biden has often said that the United States spends something like $30 in Afghanistan for every $1 in Pakistan, even though in his view the main threat to American national security interests is in Pakistan…

Mrs. Clinton, who opposed Mr. Biden in March, appeared to refer to this debate in an interview on Monday night on PBS. “Some people say, ‘Well, Al Qaeda’s no longer in Afghanistan,’ ” she said. “If Afghanistan were taken over by the Taliban, I can’t tell you how fast Al Qaeda would be back in Afghanistan.”

Of course they would. If you’re not holding territory then all you’re doing is playing whack-a-mole with AQ, chasing them from Afghanistan to Pakistan in 2001 and now from Pakistan back into Afghanistan. Besides, if you believe Bill Roggio’s sources, Biden’s strategy is dead on arrival. Predators are effective, and special forces — which I thought, per leftist shrieking, were unusable in Pakistan lest the backlash “create more terrorists” — would help, but the bottom line is that this is a terrain game. And the more area AQ has to maneuver in, the less lethal our arsenal will be.

“Al Qaeda still maintains a deep bench,” a senior official told The Long War Journal. “We’ve hurt them, we’re forcing them to focus more on personal security and leadership succession, but we can’t defeat them like this.”

Numerous al Qaeda operatives, many with a decade or more of experience, wait in the wings to assume leadership roles. Many are based in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Yemen…

Al Qaeda’s strengthening alliances with Pakistani terror groups such as the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and several other groups have increased its access to experienced operatives as well as recruits, an official said. And the strong ties to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network ensure their survival unless these groups are denied terrain.

“Just the alliance with Lashkar-e-Taiba alone ensures al Qaeda has a vast pool of leadership cadre,” the official said.

As a capper, be sure to read Tom Maguire’s post about what Obama knew and when he knew it. The spin these days is that the White House simply didn’t realize the depth of corruption in the Karzai government when it ordered a counterinsurgency strategy in March, but that’s clearly nonsense given that the media was already reporting on it. Exit question via Maguire: Why doesn’t the modern Pericles put those golden pipes of his to use in rallying support for the mission he claims to care so much about? Exit answer, I guess: Didn’t he do that just a few weeks ago on behalf of ObamaCare? How’s that working out?

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Four step plan to win in Afghanistan.

1. Reduce combat service personnel in OEF by 20 percent and increase combat personnel by 20 percent. (There are soldiers and civilians running around our FOBs with freaking businesses on the side instead of doing their jobs. The rest watch movies on their office laptops while we’re out on ops)

2. Increase funding directly to increase OPTEMPO of said combat personnel’s operations.

3. Let us take the gloves off with the ROE. (We can still reduce civilian casualties without the ridiculous half to a full hour wait to declare targets.)

4. Put the US in charge of RC South.

hawkdriver on September 24, 2009 at 4:57 AM

1. Reduce combat service “support” personnel…

hawkdriver on September 24, 2009 at 4:59 AM

hawkdriver on September 24, 2009 at 4:57 AM

Good ideas. The ROE change is the key. We should be able to trust our highly experienced call for fire personnel. Saw an IED video, the call for the kid to get out of the way was characteristically American. Awed and proud of the performance in AF.
Please get all the crew rest you can stand. Was Ireland fun?

NaCly dog on September 24, 2009 at 5:23 AM

NaCly dog on September 24, 2009 at 5:23 AM

The video you’re talking about was aircraft from my brigade. There’s a better shot from the other aircraft where you can see the one insurgent making like superman sailing across the ditch.

I’m just back in Dublin yesterday from Kenmare and still have nine days to enjoy. We’re going to celebrate the anniversary of Guiness today at 1759 with the rest of Ireland. (hic)

hawkdriver on September 24, 2009 at 5:30 AM

Well, don’t type, then. The birthrate of Ireland needs a surge too. And you’re just the aviator their country needs. Put down that keyboard and help the colleens.

NaCly dog on September 24, 2009 at 5:53 AM

They should listen to Patraeus.

Terrye on September 24, 2009 at 7:11 AM

It would be nice if Hot Air would post some Diana West stuff. She has a perspective on the Afghanistan situation that needs to be heard.

2Brave2Bscared on September 24, 2009 at 9:12 AM

Speaking of Roggio, he has a new post on this matter:
Counterterrorism at the expense of counterinsurgency will doom Afghanistan and Pakistan: US officials

batter on September 24, 2009 at 9:41 AM

2Brave2Bscared on September 24, 2009 at 9:12 AM

I agree. I am tired of American blood being spilled in pursuit of a lie. I am happy to see the enemy dead, wherever they are, but this “hearts and minds/nation-building” stuff is a fairy tale.

DrMagnolias on September 24, 2009 at 10:47 AM

Genghis Khan and Russia could not hold onto Afghanistan, neither will the United States.

The local tribal allegiances, vast untamed ungovernable wilderness areas, lack of national infrastructure and cohesion [except for the poppy], all bode ominously of failure; unless and until we accept and appreciate the hard won and bloody lessons of history, we will only be destined to repeat once again, what should be very obvious, futile and foolish mistakes.

“Who will cry for Afghanistan?”

It should not be US.

Geezer on September 24, 2009 at 10:56 AM

Obama has already changed the ROE, making it more restrictive. Patreaus and McCrystal know what they are doing the only option that will work is to follow thier reccomendations. Don’t play politics with this war, that is what happened in Nam.

Sven on September 24, 2009 at 7:04 PM