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McCaffrey vs. the Civilian Surge

State Department officials have been assuring reporters for the last week that by January, more than 1,000 diplomats, development workers and other U.S. government civilians will be positioned in Afghanistan to help their soon-to-be-100,000 uniformed counterparts in an effort dubbed the “civilian surge.” Indeed, just this morning, Paul Jones, the deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said to expect “beyond” that number to join the war effort in 2010, as the State Department, USAID and other non-military aspects of American power expand their operations. But retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the ethically compromised former military leader and drug czar, says none of this is real — apparently at the behest of U.S. Central Command.

Laura Rozen obtains a report commissioned by CENTCOM and written by McCaffrey casting doubt on whether the civilian surge is really meaningful. It has a lot of praise for the military leadership in Afghanistan. But then, Rozen observes:

McCaffrey’s lavish praise for the military geniuses contrasts with notable terseness regarding the whole rest of the operation in Afghanistan, though his assessment lists interviews with top US embassy officials in Afghanistan by name.

Note this point, for instance, in the summary: “The international civilian agency surge will essentially not happen — although State Department officers, US AID, CIA, DEA, and the FBI will make vital contributions. Afghanistan over the next 2-3 years will be simply too dangerous for most civil agencies.”

The State Department, USAID and CIA etc. are providing “vital contributions?” Ouch.

What does it mean to say the civilian surge “will essentially not happen”? Are those 1,000 civilians in Afghanistan or aren’t they? Rozen interprets McCaffrey’s line as indicating “the U.S. military leadership may not be ready to put aside tensions with their civilian counterparts.” I don’t know — the military commissions a lot of reports. But we’ll get an indication of whether she’s right starting tomorrow morning, when Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Amb. Karl Eikenberry begin two days of joint congressional testimony. In any event, it’s hard to know what McCaffrey is talking about here.

Fun fact: in the assessment, McCaffrey references the private security company “DynCorp whose Board of Directors I am proud to be with.” At least he’s disclosing his corporate affiliations now…

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