Report: McChrystal says US needs new Afghanistan strategy
The top commander in Afghanistan reportedly likens the US military to a bull charging at a matador and getting weaker with each cut.
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If the BBC is correct, the report looks likely to lead to more debate and hand-wringing over the US-led mission in Afghanistan, as Western forces endure their deadliest year to date in the war against the Taliban insurgency.
US Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal's report was being sent to US Central Command (CentCom), according to media reports, and has not been publicly released. The BBC reported on the contents of the message Monday.
In the report, Gen McChrystal is said to have likened the US military to a bull charging at a matador [the Taliban] - slightly weakened with each "cut" it receives....
The general's blunt assessment will also say that the Afghan people are undergoing a crisis of confidence because the war against the Taliban has not made their lives better, our correspondent says.
General McChrystal says the aim should be for Afghan forces to take the lead but their army will not be ready to do that for three years and it will take much longer for the police.
And he will warn that villages have to be taken from the Taliban and held, not merely taken.
According to the BBC, the report does not mention increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan. Under President Obama, US troops in Afghanistan are set to rise to nearly 70,000, even as US forces are drawn down in Iraq. Mr. Obama has said the forces are needed to stabilize Afghanistan, and better train the Afghan police and military to take on the Taliban insurgency.
But critics say that by escalating the conflict and hoping that the poorly trained, ill-equipped Afghans can take over security anytime soon, the US risks being drawn into a quagmire, as these political cartoons from The Huffington Post and Ted Rall suggest.
Since taking command, McChrystal has adjusted the focus of Western forces from hunting down insurgents to trying to protect the Afghan population, borrowing in part from U.S. tactics in Iraq developed under CentCom commander General David Petraeus.
His review is expected to suggest concentrating forces in more heavily populated areas, and also stepping up efforts to train Afghan soldiers and police.
McChrystal commands more than 100,000 NATO troops, including 63,000 Americans. About 10,000 reinforcements – including 5,000 more Americans – are set to arrive in Afghanistan by year's end, according to Reuters.
On Saturday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a surprise visit to Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, the site of a NATO campaign against the Taliban this summer. (Click here for a video from ITN.) During the visit he promised to send more equipment and speed up training of Afghan government forces.
Helmand Province is one part of Afghanistan that's largely under Taliban control. As the most "violent and dangerous" Afghan province, some polling stations did not operate and residents could not participate in the Aug. 20 elections, according to the BBC.