As Expected, Obama Approves Troop Increase To Afghanistan

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 5:02 pm

He promised to do so on the campaign trail, and now he’s done it: President Obama has approved a troop increase to Afghanistan. His just-released statement is below. Notice that the forces approved appear to be less than the 20,000-30,000 troops requested by Gen. David McKiernan, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. Also notice that Obama says that the troop increase does not “pre-determine” his ongoing strategy review.

There is no more solemn duty as President than the decision to deploy our armed forces into harm’s way. I do it today mindful that the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention and swift action. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe-haven along the Pakistani border.

To meet urgent security needs, I approved a request from Secretary Gates to deploy a Marine Expeditionary Brigade later this spring and an Army Stryker Brigade and the enabling forces necessary to support them later this summer. This increase has been requested by General McKiernan and supported by Secretary Gates, the Joint Chiefs and the Commander of Central Command. General McKiernan’s request for these troops is months old, and the fact that we are going to responsibly drawdown our forces in Iraq allows us the flexibility to increase our presence in Afghanistan.

This reinforcement will contribute to the security of the Afghan people and to stability in Afghanistan. I recognize the extraordinary strain that this deployment places on our troops and military families. I honor their service, and will give them the support they need.

This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires. That is why I ordered a review of our policy upon taking office, so we have a comprehensive strategy and the necessary resources to meet clear and achievable objectives in Afghanistan and the region. This troop increase does not pre-determine the outcome of that strategic review. Instead, it will further enable our team to put together a comprehensive strategy that will employ all elements of our national power to fulfill achievable goals in Afghanistan. As we develop our new strategic goals, we will do so in concert with our friends and allies as together we seek the resources necessary to succeed. [My emphasis.]

I suppose that means this is a force increase to answer McKiernan’s request of what he needs now — though it doesn’t appear to be all of what McKiernan wants — rather than the resources required for the forthcoming change in strategy. Interestingly, Secretary Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he would oppose any increase in forces beyond what McKiernan has already asked for. If that holds, this is probably the only plus-up that’s on the way.

Update: Brandon Friedman at VoteVets approves.

Update 2: I should clarify. Gates could conceivably ask for the remainder of McKiernan’s request at a later point. I wrote fast on this one and outpaced basic logic. But I read Gates’ comments at the SASC hearing as meaning that there wouldn’t be another round of troop requests after the Big Plus-Up Debate of 2009 — which, of course, he did not actually say. So: my fault on this one.

One More Update: The Pentagon’s out with its own statement, and it clarifies the troop level picture. We’re talking 12,000 combat soldiers and marines, plus another 5,000 support troops, for a plus-up of 17,000 by the summer.

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Comments

11 Comments

Ergotism › Afghanistan
Pingback posted February 17, 2009 @ 7:04 pm

[...] President Obama is elevating troop levels in Afghanistan. [...]


Carl
Comment posted February 18, 2009 @ 2:45 am

Unless the “strategic review” is really a “tactical review”, this action does pre-determine which facts and conclusions Obama will find acceptable. I'm not saying a draw-down of troops is the best option, but the British ambassador thinks that it is, and it should at least be considered. Adding forces before the review is finished makes it certain that this is now off the table.

I'm also worried that Obama is giving the generals 60% of what they want for purely political reasons. One of the themes of “Best & Brightest” is that Kennedy thought he was being cautious and moderate when he split the difference with his generals, when really all he did was ensure that the generals got everything they wanted over a longer time period.

It was only a week ago that Obama asked the generals what the end-game is, and they told him they were still working on it. Does anyone think these people suddenly have an answer to that question?


Carl
Comment posted February 18, 2009 @ 10:45 am

Unless the “strategic review” is really a “tactical review”, this action does pre-determine which facts and conclusions Obama will find acceptable. I'm not saying a draw-down of troops is the best option, but the British ambassador thinks that it is, and it should at least be considered. Adding forces before the review is finished makes it certain that this is now off the table.

I'm also worried that Obama is giving the generals 60% of what they want for purely political reasons. One of the themes of “Best & Brightest” is that Kennedy thought he was being cautious and moderate when he split the difference with his generals, when really all he did was ensure that the generals got everything they wanted over a longer time period.

It was only a week ago that Obama asked the generals what the end-game is, and they told him they were still working on it. Does anyone think these people suddenly have an answer to that question?


PoliTrix » Blog Archive » Brzezinski: Obama Risks Getting "Bogged Down" In Afghanistan
Pingback posted February 18, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

[...] David McKiernan, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. And, as Spencer Ackerman notes at the Washington Independent, “Obama says that the troop increase does not “pre-determine” his ongoing [...]


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Pingback posted February 23, 2009 @ 1:30 pm

[...] more to cover operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through September 30, when the fiscal year ends. Jacking up troop levels in Afghanistan makes up the lion’s share of the difference. Given that there was already a separate funding [...]


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Pingback posted March 9, 2009 @ 8:05 am

[...] needed to win.” One report claims the Pentagon already asked for 100,000 troops. But when the President announced troop increases, it was less than what commanders had asked for, and some officials’ statements suggested [...]


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Pingback posted March 9, 2009 @ 3:17 pm

[...] force needed to win.” One report claims the Pentagon already asked for 100,000 troops. But when the President announced troop increases, it was less than what commanders had asked for, and some officials’ statements suggested that [...]


Is Progressive Pressure Affecting Afghanistan Policy? « Get Afghanistan Right
Pingback posted April 4, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

[...] needed to win.” One report claims the Pentagon already asked for 100,000 troops. But when the President announced troop increases, it was less than what commanders had asked for, and some officials’ statements suggested [...]


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Pingback posted October 22, 2009 @ 2:42 pm

[...] Obama administration raised troop levels in Afghanistan and increased drone strikes in the region (whether one agrees with [...]


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Comment posted June 5, 2010 @ 12:58 am

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Obama’s Lack of Leadership Costing Lives ‘ Maryland Society of Patriots
Pingback posted April 11, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

[...] strong similarities between this situation and Obama’s decision on Afganistan in 2009.  After putting off making a decision for an extended period the president refused to pull troops out …  The president was unable to decide between ending the war and winning the war and has thus [...]


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