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McChrystal on Kandahar: ‘Slower Than Anticipated’

Gen. Stanley McChrystal effectively settles this calibration of how his strategy for the “process” of securing Kandahar shifted in reaction to local perspectives:

The operation to secure the Kandahar region will unfold more slowly and last longer than the military had planned, Gen. Stanley McChrystal said. The slower pace of the make-or-break operation reflects the reality that the Taliban is not a hated occupier in Kandahar, and the residents McChrystal is trying to protect do not universally want his help.

“I do think it will happen more slowly than we had originally anticipated,” McChrystal said.

McChrystal predicted he can still demonstrate a turnaround in the war by year’s end, as U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said this week is necessary to sustain public backing for a war now in its ninth year.

The question going forward is whether the Taliban have sufficient support within the city to invalidate the premise that the coalition can degrade its momentum, timetable or no timetable. Look to Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy and Gen. David Petraeus to address that question in Senate testimony next week — or not.

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