(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
American military commanders have been steadily repeating the message that more U.S. troops may be needed in Afghanistan, while the support for the open-ended war is diminishing by the American people and some members of the U.S. Congress despite President Obama’s saying Afghanistan is a ‘war of necessity‘.
The New York Times reported, “American military commanders with the NATO mission in Afghanistan told Obama’s chief envoy to the region this weekend that they did not have enough troops to do their job, pushed past their limit by Taliban rebels who operate across borders.”
Then on Monday, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) told the Appleton Post-Crescent editorial board that now a timeline for a military pullout from Afghanistan is needed.
“After eight years, I am not convinced that simply pouring more and more troops into Afghanistan is a well-thought out strategy,” said Feingold, who supported the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan to capture al-Qaeda operatives.
The U.S. commanders spoke with Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s special representative in Afghanistan and Pakistan and, according to the NY Times, “emphasized problems in southern Afghanistan, where Taliban insurgents continue to bombard towns and villages with rockets despite a new influx of American troops, and in eastern Afghanistan, where the father-and-son-led Haqqani network of militants has become the main source of attacks against American troops and their Afghan allies.”
“Holbrooke visited all four regional command centers in Afghanistan, and the message from all four followed similar lines: while the additional American troops, along with smaller increases from other NATO members, have had some benefit in the south, the numbers remain below what commanders need.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, more U.S. troops are already on the way:
President Obama has already committed 21,000 additional U.S. troops to the campaign in Afghanistan, which will bring the American force to 68,000 by year’s end. About 30,000 international troops under NATO command are also deployed in Afghanistan.
So far Obama’s military team and the commanders in Afghanistan have not indicated how many more soldiers they will asked to be deployed to the conflict area.
There is no way to forecast how many troops the administration might add to the eastern region, but the addition of one brigade, or about 3,500 troops, would be a substantial increase. U.S. forces now have two Army brigades in the zone, plus some other personnel.
Noting more troops does not a strategy make, Feingold added, “I’ve never been convinced that they have a good answer to the concern that I have and that other people have… Are we helping drive more extremists into Pakistan by continuing to build up troops and resentment in Afghanistan?”
When asked what kind of shape Afghanistan will be in when the U.S. leaves, Feingold said, “I’m sure it won’t be in great shape.
“But I think staying there longer isn’t going to change that. I think what we have to do is make sure we can do the most we can in the remaining time to increase the capacity of Afghan troops.”
Feingold suggested that Americans would be unhappy as an occupied nation, so why would the Afghans be an exception? “So the idea of an open-ended commitment with no vision of when it will end is a problem,” Feingold said.
The AFP notes that Feingold was the first senator to call for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
Cross-posted from Daily Kos.