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Gen. McChrystal’s Freaked-Out Advisers

A pattern is developing with respect to the Afghanistan war. No one who advises Gen. Stanley McChrystal on his 60-day strategy review — results coming soon! — thinks the war effort is adequately resourced. First Andrew “Abu Muqawama” Exum of the Center for a New American Security came back from Afghanistan and appeared freaked out, writing that while it wasn’t hopeless, “to say we are facing an uphill struggle in Afghanistan is an understatement.” He then questioned U.S. ability to influence the Afghanistan government’s corruption and lack of capacity to govern.

Now Anthony Cordesman, an eminence grise of Washington defense analysts, came back from advising McChrystal and said that McChrystal badly needs more troops, according to the Voice of America:

“If you don’t provide those resources and additional brigade combat teams, if you do not, I think, effectively move the Afghan security forces toward doubling them. I think unless we’re prepared to commit those resources. If we somehow believe that a civilian surge of 700 people and tailoring our force posture to the views of a completely different set of strategic priorities, this is going to win, the answer is no, it’s going to lose,” he said.

I don’t really know what he means by a “completely different set of strategic priorities,” but I presume Cordesman is pushing back against Defense Secretary Robert Gates and national security adviser Jim Jones, both of whom have expressed skepticism about adding more troops than the 17000 President Obama ordered to Afghanistan this spring. Cordesman cautioned that there “

[T]he biggest problem in all this talk of strategy, and the heart of why I was so deeply skeptical of even the current review [is] no one talks to each other, and no one does their homework (and by that I mean “no one in charge”). According to Exum’s new model for how to use U.S. forces, they should be limited to air-assault type missions, except we need more of them, because the problem is the Taliban’s campaign of silent intimidation. No offense, Ex, but does that make even a jot of sense?

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