We still don’t know what it says. Not even Defense Secretary Bob Gates does, apparently, though it went to the Pentagon and NATO. The initial reports are that it says a lot of what it’s been expected to say: the war is hard but not hopeless; more Afghan forces are necessary; intelligence collection and dissemination needs to improve; so does military-civilian coordination; so does U.S.-NATO coordination. There are no indications as yet that it will deal with broader strategic questions of what the war aims precisely are or how the U.S. will know when they’ve achieved them. (And McChrystal is deferring a decision to request more troops until a later date.)
This, from The New York Times, struck my eye:
Just how many more Afghan police and soldiers General McChrystal wants is unclear. In Iraq, where conditions have stabilized markedly over the past two years, the American-trained Iraqi security forces number about 600,000.
I had thought the plan was to get those troop and police numbers up to 400,000.
Something else to keep in mind: the review was conducted by Washington think-tankers under McChrystal’s auspices. If it ultimately delivers establishmentarian solutions, that’s why. Contrast that with a McChrystal aide’s blind quote, admittedly out of what I presume is the intended context:
“We need a fundamental new approach,” said one officer, a senior advisor to Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the newly appointed top commander in Afghanistan.
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