Are There Enough Troops for a ‘Rising Tide of Security’ in Kandahar?
Hamid Karzai went home to Afghanistan last week having reached a modus vivendi with the U.S. on the non-offensive in Kandahar. The Obama administration, the military, NATO and Karzai now speak of a “rising tide of security” taking hold over the southern city, with security operations playing a decisively subordinate role to governance and economic functions. But that’s vastly easier said than done. And McClatchy carries a blind quote casting doubt on whether the basic prerequisites for that “rising tide” are even in evidence:
U.S. defense officials and defense analysts said that McChrystal used 10,000 troops in Helmand to gain control of a rural river valley with about 50,000 residents. But in Kandahar, however, Afghanistan’s second largest city, with an estimated population of 800,000, he’s calling for just 20,000 troops.
“None of this makes any sense,” said a U.S. defense official. “If it took you 10,000 (U.S. troops) to do Marjah, there aren’t enough troops (for Kandahar).” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
And Marja isn’t in any important sense done, either.