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Do We Really Want Saudi Troops In Afghanistan?

My friend Jeff Stein at CQ asks:

I’ve got an idea: Why not get the Saudis to pony up, say, 20-30,000 troops for Afghanistan, about the same number that Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said Sunday might be added to the 30,000 we already have there?

Can we not? To engage in some Wikipedia journalism, the Saudis don’t have a history as an expeditionary land force. Their wars tend to be either close to their borders, or as non-factors, as with their token participation in the Yom Kippur war against Israel. (There’s a small contingent of troops in Afghanistan who are from the Persian Gulf, but if memory-and-Google serves, they’re from the United Arab Emirates. Just saying. Maybe there’s a small Saudi contingent, though. I could be wrong.) And isn’t the Saudi army kind of, well, not really well-esteemed? Afghanistan is really rugged territory, and it doesn’t look like the Saudis are so equipped for it.

Before you jump down my throat, I understand that Jeff’s point is primarily a political one — we tend to do a lot of Saudi-protecting, and it would be rather helpful to get a Sunni Muslim force on the ground. But let’s not put politics so far ahead of capabilities.

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