The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

McChrystal Wants to Surge ‘Uplift’ More Civilians to Afghanistan

Nathan Hodge, in Afghanistan for Danger Room, reported last week that U.S. officials in Kabul don’t like to refer to the planned near-doubling of civilian

Henry Hamer
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Aug 11, 2009

Nathan Hodge, in Afghanistan for Danger Room, reported last week that U.S. officials in Kabul don’t like to refer to the planned near-doubling of civilian advisers to the Afghan government as a “surge,” preferring the term “uplift.” And, you know, whatever. McClatchy’s Nancy Youssef and Warren Strobel have a good update about how it’s going, complete with an Abu Muqawama cameo. While all the focus is on whether Gen. McChrystal will request more U.S. troops, Youssef and Strobel report that he’s going to ask for a bunch more civilians as well:

In addition to requesting some 45,000 additional U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the country’s top American military commander will ask the Obama administration to double the number of U.S. government civilian workers who are in the country.

(Wait, *what? *McClatchy’s saying it’s definite that McChrystal will ask for the full complement of troops that Anthony Cordesman recommended yesterday in a British newspaper? I dunno about this — both Youssef and Strobel are great reporters, but this seems too big a deal to breeze past in an unrelated piece … )

Anyway, the Congressional Research Service, as I mentioned in this piece yesterday, found recently that the Obama administration plans to almost double the civilian component of U.S. officials in Afghanistan to 900 from about 500-and-change. It’s not clear to me whether McClatchy is saying that McChrystal will request more than that. An anonymous official says the total will ultimately be “about 1,000″ civilians. But this is what they’ll do:

The military will move to population centers and wrest control from the Taliban, and civilians will move in afterward to rebuild communities. In many places now, the Taliban not only control areas by force but also have established local courts, government centers and businesses and have run government officials out of their communities.

“Government is the key, and you will see that in General McChrystal’s strategy,” said a senior military official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak to the news media. “If all we achieve is security, then this won’t work.”

There’s a separate question, well covered in the McClatchy piece, about how fast the State Department and other civilian agencies can deploy their people. But has the question been answered about precisely what these civilians will* do?* If U.S. civilians end up establishing mechanisms of governance in areas cleared of Taliban and the Afghan government doesn’t send a larger complement of officials, doesn’t that look to a local a whole lot like, well, foreign domination?

*You can follow TWI on Twitter and Facebook. *

Henry Hamer | I'm currently working for Google's Chrome team in Munich, Germany, as a developer advocate. I was a member of the team responsible for the online presence of, one of Germany's largest daily newspapers, from January 2010 to November 2011. I used to work for Yahoo! on their similarly massive European news pages before joining Sueddeutsche. I've concentrated my efforts on the internet, which has turned out to be a fantastic decision.


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