Monday, January 19, 2009

What's the plan for Afghanistan?

From This Week at War, No. 2- What the four-stars are reading -- a weekly column from Small Wars Journal.

What is the incoming Obama administration's plan for Afghanistan? According to a story in this week's Washington Post, President-elect Barack Obama's national security team needs more time, until at least April, to come up with the "parameters" of a new strategy. Although lacking a plan, Obama still intends to sharply increase in 2009 the number of U.S. soldiers in the country, from about 32,000 today to more than 50,000 later this year.
As the Obama team attempts to achieve a consensus, both among its members and with the NATO allies also fighting this war, what will the additional U.S. troops do after they arrive? The Los Angeles Times
reported on a debate between factions within the Pentagon on what the mission should be for these soldiers. One faction, representing counterinsurgency theorists, is recommending using the additional soldiers to protect as much of the Afghan population in urban areas as possible. The other faction recommends deploying the soldiers to rural areas near the Pakistani border to cut off infiltration from militant sanctuaries there.
Small Wars Council had a gloomy view of the transition on Afghanistan policy. Participants stirred up memories of Lyndon Johnson's handling of Vietnam policy after the death of John F. Kennedy. And the debate over urban protection versus securing the Pakistani border brought to mind postwar analyses of the Soviet Army's failure in Afghanistan in the 1980s. (additional articles here)

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