McChrystal Rolling Stone remarks spotlight Afghanistan withdrawal timeline
General McChrystal's Rolling Stone remarks, which were critical of US officials, have turned the spotlight on disputes over Afghanistan withdrawal timeline.
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“There are tensions between the State Department and the military in Kabul as well, that’s clear,” says Mr. Rahmani. “McChrystal didn’t think that he could, in a year and a half, stabilize the ground – that this was an exit strategy.”Skip to next paragraph
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NATO had about 75,000 troops here before the surge. When the surge peaks, there should be about 150,000. The plan as drawn up, Rahmani says, was to start drawing down to about 75,000 again in the middle of next summer, if all goes well.
In the Rolling Stone article, McChrystal manages to be insulting toward the French, simultaneously crude and dismissive of the opinions of Vice President Joe Biden, and appears to have encouraged a general locker-room atmosphere around his staff.
Of Mr. Eikenberry, who in a leaked memo last year argued against the troop surge that McChrystal was pushing hard for, he said: “Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, ‘I told you so.’ ”
Awareness time is not on his side
Military analysts say McChrystal’s testiness shows he knows that time is not on his side. Allies in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is the umbrella for the war effort, have been growing restless.
Earlier this week, Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British special envoy to Afghanistan and a former ambassador here, stepped down from his job. He had questioned the wisdom of the troop surge and counterinsurgency here, worried it would only lead to a bloody and expensive quagmire, and favored negotiations with the Taliban.
A much-vaunted offensive around the southern town of Marjah last month, which was billed as the first major test of a counterinsurgency strategy that involves clearing out insurgents from an area and then quickly building a functional government to deliver services to local residents, has not delivered.
Ahead of the operation, McChrystal predicted success and said he had a “government in a box” ready to be put in place. More recently, he said the area is like a “bleeding ulcer.” An offensive originally scheduled for this month in Kandahar, the city where the Taliban first came to prominence, is currently delayed.
Obama has promised a strategy review in December, and if tangible progress isn’t made before then, the critics of the current strategy – who say it’s unlikely to yield results since it relies on good governance from a government that is among the most corrupt in the world – could get more listeners.