Senior Army Officer Says Cut Troops in Afghanistan

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis wrote that American troops are viewed by Afghanis as occupiers. Increasing troop levels, as proposed by General McChrystal would only increase resistance. He recommended cutting combat forces.

“Many experts in and from Afghanistan warn that our presence over the past eight years has already hardened a meaningful percentage of the population into viewing the United States as an army of occupation which should be opposed and resisted,” writes Davis.

Providing the additional 40,000 troops that Gen. McChrystal has reportedly requested “is almost certain to further exacerbate” that problem, he warns.

Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis wrote a 63 page report on his own time advising against the strategy proposed by General Stanley McChrystal.  Lt. Col. Davis is highly experienced in Afghanistan after serving as liaison officer between the Central Command and the Combined Forces Command – Afghanistan (CFC-A) in 2005. Moreover, in 2008 & 2009 he commanded a transition team on the border of Iraq and Iran.

Successful counter insurgencies require the support of the population. After 8 years we don’t have that support. Therefore, Lt. Col. Davis proposes a change in strategy to a “Go Deep” strategy.

The “Go Deep” strategy proposed by Davis would establish an 18-month time frame during which the bulk of U.S. and NATO combat forces would be withdrawn from the country. It would leave U.S. Special Forces and their supporting units, and enough conventional forces in Kabul to train Afghan troops and police and provide protection for U.S. personnel.

The window of opportunity for a “surge” option has passed according to Lt. Col. Davis. According to his analysis the surge worked in Iraq because Al Qaeda was an outside force that was more hated by the Sunnis than U.S. troops. The Taliban, an indigenous force in Afghanistan, is not hated by the population as Al Qaeda was in Iraq. Thus the addition of the number of troops proposed by General McChrystal will be insufficient to rein in the Taliban like we reined in Al Qaeda in Iraq. A hundred thousand additional troops would be required to implement Gen. McChrystal’s strategy successfully according to Lt. Col. Davis.

The forces that continue to operate in insurgent-dominated areas would wage “an aggressive counterterrorism effort” aimed in part at identifying Taliban and al Qaeda operatives. The strategy would also provide support for improved Afghan governance and training for security forces.

Davis argues that a large and growing U.S. military presence would make it more difficult to achieve this counterterrorism objective. By withdrawing conventional forces from the countryside, he suggests, U.S. strategy would deprive the insurgents of “easily identifiable and lucrative targets against which to launch attacks”.

Lt. Col. Davis developed his “go deep” strategy based on his personal experience in Afghanistan and Iraq and extensive discussion with other officers in the field. His cut combat troops to focus on special forces “go deep” proposal is a viable alternative strategy to the Viet Nam like escalation proposed by General McChrystal.

After reading Davis’s paper, Col. Patrick Lang, formerly the defence intelligence officer for the Middle East, told IPS he regards the “Go Deep” strategy as “a fair representation of the alternative to the one option in General McChrystal’s assessment”.

Lt. Col. Davis’ strategy is a sensible alternative to the strategy proposed by General McChrystal which bears striking similarity to the strategy used unsuccessfully in Viet Nam where we were supporting a corrupt government that was unable to gain the popular support required to crush an insurgency.


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  1. More troops cannot undo the failures of Bush and Cheney in Afghanistan.

    We must carefully find new ways to solve our problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan or we will be repeating the mistakes of the past 8 years.

  2. 80K.  It also appears NATO is pretty much on board.  I don’t think they’re going to give away the prize without a ramped up effort.  Problem is, where are the troops going to come from?


    Maybe the decision has been made at 45K.  

  4. …is entirely too reasonable.  Not macho enough.  Therefore, there’s no possibility we’ll do it.

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