Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gates Asks For More Troops in Afghanistan

It seems Obama's call for more attention to Afghanistan is coming to fruition. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is asking for more troops. Obama has been talking about Afghanistan for months now. McCain, all over Iraq, has avoided Afghanistan. 
CBS: Pentagon leaders on Wednesday signaled a surge in U.S. forces in Afghanistan "sooner rather than later" - a shift that could come later this year as they prepare to cut troop levels in Iraq.

Faced with an increasingly sophisticated insurgency, particularly along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, defense officials said sending more troops would have a significant impact on the violence.

"I think that we are clearly working very hard to see if there are opportunities to send additional forces sooner rather than later," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Pentagon reporters. But, he added that no final decisions or recommendations have been made.

His comments suggested an acceleration in what had been plans to shift forces there early next year. And they came as the political discourse on Afghanistan as a key military priority escalated on both Capitol Hill and the presidential campaign trail.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who recently returned from meetings with commanders in Afghanistan, said they clearly want more troops now.

"It's a tougher fight, it's a more complex fight, and they need more troops to have the long-term impact that we all want to have there," said Mullen, who also met last week with Pakistani leaders.

Gates also said that we can't kill our way to victory. Hmmm. Seems I've heard that line before. But who said it? Oh, yes, it was Obama.

On Tuesday, Gates expanded on that theme, using the worsening situation in Afghanistan as an example of the problem. A recent spate of deadly attacks in Afghanistan has underscored the resurgence of the Taliban there - more than six years after they were ousted by the U.S.-led invasion.

The surge in violence has led to calls for the U.S. to send more troops to Afghanistan, shifting them away from what has been an improving security situation in Iraq.

Military leaders, however, are not yet ready to say how many troops can be pulled out of Iraq, stressing that the gains there are fragile.

Gates on Tuesday was introduced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - a choice that reflected their generally strong working relationship and his vocal support for giving her more resources.

"We cannot kill or capture our way to victory," Gates said, adding that military operations should support measures that promote economic and political growth. That effort, he said, must be coordinated with the U.N., NATO, other nations and agencies such as United States Agency for International Development.

"The Foreign Service is not the Foreign Legion, and the U.S. military should never be mistaken for a Peace Corps with guns," said Gates.

In the future, Gates said, the U.S. may not be toppling a regime and rebuilding a nation, but there will be a need to help countries that are struggling with insurgents, failed governments or natural disasters.

In fact, I would argue that Obama helped turn attention toward Afghanistan. He also led the discussion of race and fatherhood. He led the discussion on patriotism. He led the discussion on religion. He challenged people to think.

Obama is a natural leader, which is why so many people hate him so dearly. He's good at what he does. The good ones are always loathed by the folks resistant to expanding their minds. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that anyone who doesn't support Obama is a hate monger. I recognize that people have different ideas and are inclined to support John McCain or someone else. I'm talking about the radical haters, who spend their day photoshopping ugly posters and such.