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What Congress Should Ask McChrystal Tomorrow & Wednesday

As mentioned earlier, tomorrow morning Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Amb. Karl Eikenberry begin two days of hearings on the revised Afghanistan strategy. I’ll be providing up-to-the-minute coverage on this blog. And to that end, I was thinking about writing some preview questions about what to look for, as I typically do. But luckily for the both of us, Danger Room’s Noah Shachtman has already written that post!

With luck, staffers for the House and Senate armed-services and foreign-affairs committee are slipping printouts of this post into their bosses’ briefing books. There are too many good questions here for me to excerpt them all. Here’s a few I’d focus on, though:

You’ve said the primary mission of ISAF forces should be to secure the population. So why are 9,000 of the 30,000 surge troops headed to largely rural Helmand province? Why are Marines now assaulting the largely abandoned city of Now Zad?

I’d even take this one a bit further. General, which population centers will we secure, and which areas will we neglect? What’s the measurement? And how do we mitigate against insurgents taking hold in the places we’re not going?

Despite your rules on air strikes, there have been several instances of ISAF bombing runs killing large numbers of civilians. What are the results of the investigations into the September 4th air strikes on Kunduz? The November 6th air strike in Baghdis province?

Do you expect the rules of engagement for air strikes to change, with the escalation of the war?

Great queries. By now, you can probably guess the question I’d add. General, ambassador: will we hand over security responsibilities to Afghan soldiers and policemen while the safe havens for al-Qaeda still exist in Pakistan?

Update: But maybe you can do better! Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is asking you to tell her what she should ask McChrystal tomorrow. Hit up her Facebook wall.

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