5 years, 11 months ago
In Review and Analysis of Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Campaign, we noted that the first quarter of 2008 should see the results of a department-wide review of the Afghanistan COIN campaign strategy, and previously we have strongly suggested the needs for more troops. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sets the pretext for this review and essentially tells us what he expects to see as a result of the review.
Gates said a small number of additional troops are needed in Afghanistan, but ruled out a broad surge of American forces. Commanders in Afghanistan are asking for smaller numbers of combat troops and support personnel who could train Afghan forces, but do not see the need for an Iraq-style troop buildup.
“You’re talking about probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,500 troops. So it’s not like moving 100,000 troops from one place to the other or something like that,” Gates said. “But there is clearly, in the view even of the commander in the field, no requirement for a substantial plus-up of forces in Afghanistan to accomplish his mission.”
Those additional 7,500 troops could be drawn from American forces. Gates had been pressing the NATO allies for more troops. Though U.S. officials do want to maintain pressure on allied nations to send more troops, Gates noted there is little reason to press countries with a weak minority government for whom it is politically impossible to send more troops.
“Continuing to publicly go after our allies for things — to do things that politically are just impossible for them is probably not very productive,” he said.
Gates said the challenge of the year ahead in Afghanistan is to build on military progress, maintain control of newly recaptured areas and start to push ahead on some economic progress.
“There is no doubt … that there has been an increase in violence over the past year,” Gates said. “But in part it has been due to much more aggressive actions on the part of the NATO alliance and the U.S. forces that are there. The spring offensive we expected from the Taliban became NATO’s spring offensive.”
This seems overly optimistic to me, and 7500 additional troops still doesn’t provide either the ability to conduct operations in a country the size of Afghanistan or to supply border security.