Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 5, 2009


Bloomberg - President Barack Obama and top U.S. military commanders are under pressure from senators and civilian advisers to double the size of Afghan security forces, a commitment that would cost billions of dollars.

In private letters and face-to-face meetings, these supporters of mounting a stronger effort against the Taliban seek to boost the Afghan National Army and police to at least 400,000 personnel from the current 175,000.

"Any further postponement" of a decision to support a surge in Afghan forces will hamper U.S. efforts to quell an insurgency in its eighth year, Senators Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, wrote to the White House in a July 21 letter obtained by Bloomberg News.

General Stanley McChrystal, the new U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, will recommend a speedier expansion of Afghan forces beyond current targets in an assessment he will give Defense Secretary Robert Gates and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen by Aug. 14, according to a military official familiar with the review.

McChrystal has heard from civilian advisers who studied the war effort. The general won't suggest in the report how many more U.S. or NATO troops would be needed to train those Afghan forces or to boost the U.S. fighting effort, the official said. . . . . .

In a May 19 letter to Obama, 17 Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Levin, Lieberman, and Senator John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate, urged a doubling of Afghan forces. They cautioned Obama against "taking an incremental approach" that "does not reflect the realities on the ground.". . .

There are 62,000 U.S. troops and 40,500 non-U.S. NATO forces in Afghanistan, the highest number since the war to oust the Taliban began in 2001.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the first official ground combat troops landed in Vietnam in January of 1965 LBJ remarked to McNamara: "Well, we're over that hurdle."

August 5, 2009 9:41 PM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

There's probably only one way to get rid of the Taliban: summarily shoot dead any man with a beard. Secular men and the truly devout who wear a beard for cultural reasons will shave, while the fundie loonies will scream the Pushtu equivalent of "Never, infidel dogs!" and be easy prey.

I'm about half-serious. Like all pseudo-religious psychopaths, the Taliban are both repulsive and permanently dangerous. They benefit no one by their lives and harm many. We would certainly benefit from their departure.

August 7, 2009 3:28 PM  

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