Flournoy on Afghanistan Strategy
Early in today’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on President-elect Obama’s Pentagon subcabinet nominees, Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary for policy-designate, pledged her support for the upcoming troop increase in Afghanistan. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) asked Flournoy to articulate a military strategy for Afghanistan, particularly “what the end point is [at which] we see the mission completed.” Flournoy didn’t hestitate to say she didn’t have more than an overall goal.
“That is the question, Senator. Our objective in Afghanistan has got to be to create a more stable and secure environment that allows longer-term stabilization to prevent Afghanistan from returning to a safe haven for terrorism. Job number one, or one of the top jobs of this administration is going to be crafting the strategy you’re asking for, not just the military piece… but across the U.S. government as a whole, working with our NATO alies, working with the Afghan government, working with international donors… all elements of national power [should be] brought] to bear. I can’t tell you what that strategy is yet. But both President-elect Obama, and Secretary Gates are committed to developing that as an early priority going forward.”
Webb, a Marine veteran of Vietnam and Navy secretary under President Reagan, remarked that, “I hope the process ends up with a clearly articulated endpoint. If you cannot clearly articulate when the commitment will be ended, then we tend to move in an ad-hoc way, staying in different places and not necessarily resolving problems in a way that fits our national interest.”