Monday, August 31, 2009

GEN McChrystal Demands Strategic Change in Afghanistan

In a move that will affect Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, US Army General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in the country, said today as he handed over to US and NATO commanders a sweeping review of operations.

"The situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort," General Stanley McChrystal said. His findings will be submitted to President Barack Obama, who faces a public increasingly restive over a war that has lasted eight years.

McChrystal has been working on the review since Obama put him in charge of the war in June after firing his predecessor, David McKiernan. The document has been sent to General David Petraeus, responsible for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to NATO headquarters in Brussels.

The review is expected to confirm that protecting the Afghan people against the Taliban must be the top priority. The document has not been published yet, and the severity of McChrystal's assessment was difficult to gauge.

McChrystal says the aim should be for Afghan forces to take the lead, but that the Afghan army will not be ready for three years and the police will need longer.

Although the report does not mention increasing troop numbers, the implication is that more soldiers will be needed to turn around an unsuccessful strategy. Officers in Afghanistan consider much of the effort of the last eight years wasted, with too few troops deployed and many of them placed in the wrong regions and given the wrong orders.

"Over the next 12 to 15 months among the things you absolutely, positively have to do is persuade a sceptical American public that this can work, that you have a plan and a strategy that is feasible," Stephen Biddle, a military expert who advises the US-led command in Afghanistan, told the McClatchy-Tribune news service.

Another leading counter-insurgency expert said Afghanistan's government must fight corruption and deliver services to Afghans quickly, because Taliban militants were filling gaps and winning support. The Taliban were already running courts, hospitals and even an ombudsman in parallel to the government, making a real difference to local people, said David Kilcullen, a senior adviser to McChrystal and Petraeus.

"A government that is losing to a counter-insurgency isn't being outfought, it is being out-governed. And that's what's happening in Afghanistan," Kilcullen told Australia's National Press Club.

1 comment:

The Long Slow Goodbye said...

Just guessing here, but I suspect the American public isn't the only obstacle faced by the policy makers. Casualties are hitting the other forces in A'stan as well and it won't take long for public opinion in those countries to add to the cry of opposition coming from some in the US.