Report: 40,000 more troops for Afghanistan ‘remains on the table’
The Obama administration’s forthcoming strategy in the occupation of Afghanistan is being reconciled from several proposals by the Department of Defense and the vice president’s office. Among them, General Stanley McChrystal’s proposal to send another 40,000 U.S. soldiers into the country “remains on the table,” The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
“One scenario under consideration, according to an official familiar with the deliberations, calls for deploying 10,000 to 20,000 U.S. reinforcements primarily to ramp up the training of the Afghan security forces,” the paper noted. “But Gen. McChrystal’s request for 40,000 troops also remains on the table.”
The “emerging” strategy backed by Vice President Joe Biden would rely on small groups of special forces soldiers and remote-controlled drone aircraft to strike at Taliban and al Qaeda targets, Journal added. However, sources told the paper that President Barack Obama has rejected such an approach as the sole strategy and now leans more toward General McChrystal’s ideas.
“One official said Pentagon strategists were asked to draft brief written arguments making the best case for each strategy, but the strategists had difficulties writing out a credible case for [Biden’s] counter-terror approach — prompting members of Mr. Biden’s staff to step in and write the document themselves,” the paper continued.
The plan likely to emerge will be something of a hybrid of the two, reporters Peter Spiegel and Yochi Dreazen added.
At the beginning of the week, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called the eight year war “adrift,” explaining on Sunday that the administration considers sending more troops now to be “reckless” without a “credible” election result and a regime ready to begin securing the country.
“The process [of establishing a credible government] will be determined by the Afghan people,” Emanuel said during an interview with CNN’s John King. “The result for us and for the president is whether there is a credible government and a legitimate process that the Afghan people can think, ‘This has worked its process through.'”
“”I think it would be irresponsible and… it would be reckless to make a decision on US troop level if, in fact, you haven’t done a thorough analysis of whether in fact there’s an Afghan partner ready to fill that space,” he said.
Emanuel was joined by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) in throwing water on plans to commit more troops in the near future.
“It would be entirely irresponsible for the president of the United States to commit more troops to this country, when we don’t even have an election finished and know who the president is and what kind of government we’re working in, with,” he said.
The comment came just days before the United Nations Electoral Complaints Commission declared invalid the ballots from 210 Afghan polling stations.
The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) said it had found “clear and convincing evidence” of fraud in the August 20 poll, including entire ballot boxes which had papers filled in with the same pen or with the same mark.
It said it had ordered the UN-backed Independent Election Commission (IEC) — the final arbiter of the election results — “to invalidate a certain percentage of each candidates’ votes” and results from 210 of the 26,300 polling stations used during the presidential election.
The ECC findings, which it said were “final and binding,” could see the IEC forced to call a run-off between incumbent President Hamid Karzai and his main rival Abdullah Abdullah.