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Washington double-minded as commander fears failure in Afghanistan
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By Hadi Mayar

General Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan, has called for 10,000 more troops in the near future as he fears failure of the eight-year-long mission in the country.

He made the demand in his strategic review, which he presented to top Pentagon policy-makers last week.

In his 66-page report, the General called for change in the existing US-NATO strategy to tackle the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, according to The Washington Post, which published excerpts from the report the other day.

Taliban, he said, are resorting to the use of more sophisticated methods and arms as they are constantly growing in number. Some 100,000 NATO-led forces, with more than 62,000 of them Americans, have been stationed in Afghanistan to stabilize security in the war-torn country.

In this situation, the US and NATO forces would have to diversify their strategy and instead of resorting to killing of the insurgents, they will have to focus more on protecting the Afghan civilians, the general argues.

"NATO forces should come out of their armored vehicles and mix up more with the Afghan people physically and psychologically," the report said.

General McChrystal had announced the strategic review soon after he took charge of US-NATO forces in Afghanistan in the wake of President Obama's new Af-Pak policy earlier this year.

Going by the success story of McChrystal in Iraq, US policy- makers expected the general to deliver more in turning the tide against Taliban, which in recent times have grown more in strength and strategy against the international forces.

The current year has already proved more lethal for US and the alliance as 365 international soldiers, including 213 Americans, have been killed in Afghanistan during the year. Last year, the number of killed coalition soldiers was 294.

In his report, McChrystal urged the need for expediting training of Afghan National Army (ANA) troops so they are able to play a more active role in counter insurgency operations.

Under the present US strategy, the number of ANA troops is to be raised from the present 92,000 to 1, 34,000 in 2011.

US field commanders, however, want the objective to be achieved by October next year.

While the While House spokesman has already dispelled commissioning of more troops to Afghanistan, President Obama said the other day that any decision to send additional forces would be made after the strategic review is completed.

McChrystal's report is part of an ongoing wider Pentagon review of the military situation and strategy in Afghanistan.

On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that a final decision about sending of more forces to Afghanistan will be made once the strategic review is completed.

The top US diplomat spurned the possibility of defeat if more troops were not commissioned to Afghanistan.

However, as the review is under process, more conflicting views are emerging from Washington with regard to sending of additional troops to Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, Sen. John McCain insisted on sending more US troops to Afghanistan and warned that the longer it takes to send them, the more Americans will be put at risk.

Critics urged Obama to fulfill an anticipated request for more troops from Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

However, White House officials say they are unsure that a troop increase in Afghanistan will help in the fight against terrorists.

Vice President Joe Biden recently said that sending more forces to Afghanistan could be part of a strategy to defeat Taliban but not the whole strategy in itself.

The whole strategy, according to US military and administration officials, is a combination of military, political, administrative, and economic steps.

However, analysts said that taking of any political, administrative, and economic measures will be very difficult in Afghanistan at a time when the insurgency is blowing with its full might.

They were also equally skeptical about the utility of more US troops, particularly when those already present in Afghanistan have not been able to deliver the goods.

(Xinhua News Agency September 24, 2009)

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