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McCain vs. McChrystal on July 2011; Plus a Clarification on Afghan Security Forces

What, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wanted to know, would Gen. McChrystal have achieved in 18 months? “We will have convinced the Afghan people that we and the Afghan government is [sic] going to win,” McChrystal said, by “reversing Taliban momentum and the perception of momentum.” He will “increase the number of security zones” secured. “Currently, we don’t have contiguous security, we have pockets of security.” That prevents the farmer in Garmsir — now security by U.S. Marines and Afghan forces — from moving his product to market in Kandahar and beyond.

“But you still have the date,” McCain said, asking what McChrystal would say to those places “on the fence” by the date. “Sir, there are some who are in opposition and some who are in ignorance as we point out the propaganda,” McChrystal said, responding that he’ll point out that the “long-term strategic partnership” is what’s important.” McCain let it go.

He then asked McChrystal, bluntly, whether his goal was still to stand up 400,000 Afghan soldiers and police by 2013. McChrystal said he wanted to “significantly increase the Afghan national security force” and wanted to move “very agresssively to get to that.” Ah, so the goal remains! But he added that it if “the insurgency size decreases it might be able to be adjusted” or tweaked depending on Afghan recruitment. McChrystal reiterated an expectation of yielding 300,000 Afghan police and soldiers by July 2011.

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