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WASHINGTON (CNN) — Gen. David McKiernan, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, predicted Wednesday that the additional 17,000 U.S. military forces to be sent to Afghanistan will remain there for as long as five years.
“This is not a temporary force uplift,” McKiernan told reporters. “It will need to be sustained for some period of time, for the next three to four to five years.”
Obama's written statement explained, "This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires." (See photos of "Pakistan's Vulnerable North-West Passage".)
If Army General David McKiernan, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, gets his way, the total increase over the coming year will be 30,000. McKiernan has said he needs to beef up U.S. forces in Afghanistan to roll back a growing Taliban insurgency, especially before the presidential election currently slated for August. Indeed, U.S. officials say they have only 40% of the American officers needed to train the Afghan army to take over security duties at some point in the future But sending any additional troops to Afghanistan would require reducing U.S. troop levels in Iraq, and Obama has ordered a review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan before committing to further reinforcements. Defense Secretary Robert Gates explained last week that the units ordered to Afghanistan on Tuesday had to be given their marching orders before the Administration's strategy review could be completed because of the pressing need for reinforcements.
See pictures of British soldiers in Afghanistan.)
Obama is keenly aware of the limitations on what his reinforcements can achieve. "I am absolutely convinced that you cannot solve the problem of Afghanistan, the Taliban, the spread of extremism in that region solely through military means," he told an interviewer on Tuesday. But more troops are needed simply to arrest and begin to reverse a perilous slide in NATO's fortunes in Afghanistan. (See "Hidden Afghanistan".)
With the Taliban growing in confidence and feeling the wind at its back, the bad news out of Afghanistan just keeps getting worse for the U.S. NATO commanders have long expressed frustration at the failure of the Pakistani military to prevent Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters maintaining sanctuaries in Pakistan from which they can launch attacks inside Afghanistan. But Pakistan's announcement on Monday of a peace agreement to accommodate the domestic Taliban insurgency in the Swat Valley suggests that an all-out war against militants on their soil is not what Pakistan's generals have in mind. And the supply lines that funnel food, fuel and war materiel to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, already imperiled by militant attacks in Pakistan, may face a further setback this week when the parliament in Kyrgyzstan votes on whether or not to kick the U.S. out of the Manas airbase, which has played a key role in air support in Afghanistan. The U.N. just announced that 2,118 civilians died in fighting in Afghanistan in 2008, a 40% hike as the war grows ever more bloody. And, last week, the Taliban "welcomed" U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke to Kabul by launching an audacious terror attack on three government buildings in the capital, leaving 26 people dead.
Iraq was paid for by our Chinese "bankers". China's economy is bad now so we have nobody to fund our war games anymore.
Under the Bush admin, Gates did a lot of lobbying for futureweapons and now that budget is sliced. The 9-11 tap is running dry:
If you are a firm believer in the war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates' grim assessment last month of what lies in store for the U.S. might have made you shudder. "If we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose, because nobody in the world has that kind of time, patience and money, to be honest," he said.
But if you are a defense contractor who has enjoyed a decade of bottomless Pentagon funding, it was Gates' comments about a struggle much closer to home that are keeping you up at night. "The spigot of defense spending that opened on 9/11 is closing," he said. "With two major campaigns ongoing, the economic crisis and resulting budget pressures will force hard choices on this department."
Gates will need backing from Obama, along with a plan to spend defense dollars more smartly, during the recession. Despite the protestations of lawmakers, defense spending is an inefficient way to create jobs because the skills that defense jobs demand require premium paychecks. (Civilians working on missile defense for Boeing in Arizona earn three times the state average, the company boasts--great for them, but not so good for taxpayers or the unemployed.) Gates has sent the White House $10 billion in military projects to include in the stimulus package
One would have expected this sort of idiocy from Bush.
Exactly what part of "ignore history at your own peril" does Obama not understand? He might want to start listening to people who know a thing or two about these things, like the last Soviet commander in Afghanistan:
MOSCOW – Twenty years after Red Army troops pulled out of Afghanistan, the last general to command them says the Soviets' devastating experience is a dismal omen for U.S. plans to build up troops there.