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McChrystal May Punt on U.S. Troop Increases in His 60-Day Review

So: $25 billion, five years and 17,000 U.S. trainer troops to yield 400,000 total Afghan soldiers and cops. That’s Center for a New American Security president John Nagl’s estimate of what it’ll cost to double the size of Afghan security forces, Bloomberg’s Indira A.R. Lakshmanan reports. Next week, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, will deliver the results of his 60-day review to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and it’s likely to include a request for a substantial increase in Afghan police and soldiers. Lakshmanan further reports that Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) support doubling the Afghan forces.

But it appears that McChrystal is bracketing a discussion of U.S. combat forces from his report:

McChrystal won’t suggest in his report how many additional U.S. or NATO troops would be needed to train those Afghan forces or to boost the U.S. fighting effort, the official said. Any discussion of U.S. or NATO troops will come in the weeks after McChrystal’s assessment is submitted.

Gates met with McChrystal and his deputy, Gen. David Rodriguez, privately in Belgium on Sunday on the defense secretary’s way back from a trip to the Middle East. He had an audience with the president at the White House yesterday afternoon. Don’t know what they discussed, and I certainly don’t know what they discussed about Afghanistan. Both men have expressed skepticism over bolstering U.S. troops in Afghanistan twice in one year. If they view adding Afghan security forces as an alternative to adding U.S. troops to the war, it’s worth wondering if they think U.S. troops will have to fill in the gap in time it takes to field a larger, competent Afghan force.

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