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You Sure You Have Enough Troops, General?

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) wants to clarify that Gen. Stanley McChrystal believes he has enough additional troops, and implies that Defense Secretary Robert Gates pressured McChrystal to lowball his resource request. “Can you tell this committee and the American people what were the different force options you requested, and the degree of risk?”

McChrystal: “That is a classified document.” But he explained there was a resource analysis behind his palette of options, “with associated risk.” He said he would make a “very direct recommendation of my chain of command of what my force level was, and I did that.” McChrystal said he was “very pleased” that the administration “demanded” he be “candid and straightforward.” He “thought it was a very healthy exchange… getting everything on the table, getting everybody clear.” President Obama’s decision “reflects resources that are congruent with what I recommend we needed, so I’m very comfortable with the outcome, resource-wise.”

McKeon tries again.Did you ask for 30,000 troops in 2010? “I asked for forces to be deployed as quickly as they could be deployed,” McChrystal replied. “As the flow worked out, that was gonna be about that, in 2010. But I didn’t ask it that way.”

What about the July 2011 inflection point? “I made no recommendations at all on that.” He gives a “wider context”: “In the long term, what in fact we have done, is provide the Afghans the assurance that we are likely to be strategic partners” in the long term. “If you are in the insurgency, that is a difficult fact to deal with,” McChrystal said, preempting the line of questioning about July 2011 allowing insurgents to wait the U.S. out. “I believe the next 18 months are the critical point in the war … the resources we have been provided … I believe, for this 18 months, we’re going to make tremendous progress with this … while we simultaneously build Afghanistan’s capability. I don’t believe the July 2011 timeframe, militarily, is a major factor in our strategy.”

He does concede that there are some who will “inappropriately” portray the 2011 date as a withdrawal date. In “information operations … they will try to describe it as something that it’s not,” McChrystal said. Does he mean insurgents or Republicans?

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