Is The Civilian-to-Military Ratio Correct in Afghanistan?
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) asked about the progress of the civilian surge in Afghanistan, and Ambassador Eikenberry beamed as he answered the question. “We’ve made very significant progress over the last 12 months,” Eikenberry said. “By January of next year, during about a 7-week time frame … we will have had a three-fold increase.” Numbers? “About 1,000 civilians overall in Afghanistan,” with 400 of those “out in the field” beyond Kabul, “USAID development specialists, Department of Agriculture specialists, throughout the country,” law-enforcement, DEA agents. They’ll “multiply the effects of wherever they are by hiring Afghans.”
Beyond January, Eikenberry expected even more: “Right now we’re in discussions with the department with what additional numbers and capabilities on the ground.” He didn’t have exact figures for his needs throughout 2010, but Eikenberry forecasted a requirement for “several hundred more over the course of the next six, nine months.” Deputy Secretary Jack Lew said something similar yesterday, about a 20 to 30 percent increase in civilians in Afghanistan next year.
Still, Ellison said, that makes it 100 troops for every civilian. “You have to look at the effects they’re going to be achieving,” replied Eikenberry, a former military commander in Afghanistan. “When we talk about civilians we’re talking about individuals. Three good agricultural specialists working in the ministry” can achieve massive results, he said.