US 'Afpak' strategy troubles some in US and Pakistan
American lawmakers say they haven't been briefed on plans, as some in Pakistan describe the administration as 'confused.'
• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.Skip to next paragraph
Israeli general hints at another Gaza campaign
Unclaimed attack on Islamic school raises tension in Nigeria
See no evil? Activists doubt credibility of Arab League mission to Syria.
Arab League observers head to Syria's war-ravaged Homs
Christmas church bombings put global spotlight on 'Nigerian Taliban' (VIDEO)
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
There's a growing sense that Pakistan may finally be taking on the Taliban, as Washington has pressed it to do for months. But how Washington itself will conduct the war against the extremists seems increasingly unclear: concerns are mounting in Washington, Islamabad, and Kabul over command, long-term strategy, and the controversial use of Predator drones.
The abrupt dismissal this week of Gen. David McKiernan underscored that the administration is still reworking its strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. General McKiernan was overall commander of US forces in Afghanistan, a post usually filled for two years. McKiernan had barely served for one. His replacement by Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a veteran of special operations and unconventional warfare in Iraq, is supposed to signal a "new strategy" and "a new mission," according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Many security analysts who follow US 'Afpak' strategy have welcomed the change, lauding the skill set McChrystal brings. "McChrystal is known as one of the smartest and least conventional thinkers in the Army, and a counterinsurgent's counterinsurgent," wrote Spencer Ackerman at the Washington Independent, an online paper, predicting "a lot of glowing praise for him from the counterinsurgency community." Many experts also supported the appointment of Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez as deputy commander of US forces in Afghanistan.
But exactly how the generals' expertise will be brought to bear remains unclear. According to Joshua Foust at Registan.net, a blog on Eurasian politics and news:
McChrystal's appointment is a jarring shift for U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, which are currently transitioning commands between the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions. It is unclear what having a Special Operations commander in charge will do the overall country strategy, just as it is unclear what two major changes of commands in a short period of time will do to the current units who are deployed there.