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BREAKING - Obama commits additional 34,000 troops to Afghanistan

McClatchy News Service is reporting this morning:

President Barack Obama met Monday evening with his national security team to finalize a plan to dispatch some 34,000 additional U.S. troops over the next year to what he's called "a war of necessity" in Afghanistan, U.S. officials told McClatchy.

... As it now stands, the plan calls for the deployment over a nine-month period beginning in March of three Army brigades from the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., and the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., and a Marine brigade from Camp Lejeune, N.C., for as many as 23,000 additional combat and support troops.

In addition, a 7,000-strong division headquarters would be sent to take command of U.S.-led NATO forces in southern Afghanistan -- to which the U.S. has long been committed -- and 4,000 U.S. military trainers would be dispatched to help accelerate an expansion of the Afghan army and police.

But this is the Obama Administration, so of course there is a catch:

The administration's plan contains "off-ramps," points starting next June at which Obama could decide to continue the flow of troops, halt the deployments and adopt a more limited strategy or "begin looking very quickly at exiting" the country, depending on political and military progress, one defense official said.

"We have to start showing progress within six months on the political side or military side or that's it," the U.S. defense official said.

Captain Ed Morrisey explains:

The increase in troops is a good decision, but the off-ramps almost completely undermine it. The point in extending our footprint is to win the trust of the local communities and prove our reliability in providing them security, which is the central thrust of McChrystal's COIN strategy. By getting them to trust our commitment, we can get them to help fight the Taliban themselves, as we did with the Anbar Awakening in Iraq against al-Qaeda, and greatly improve the intel we get from the locals. If we send 34,000 more troops but give ourselves a six-month time frame for success or bug-out, the locals will very quickly come to the realization that allying with us will be suicide. The COIN strategy only worked in Iraq because George W. Bush was adamant that we would stay until we won.

A Commander in Chief doesn't need "off-ramps." Any President can call an end to a deployment based on his own judgment. Putting these conditions into the American strategy signals weakness -- a desire to pull out without getting blamed for the decision. Obama wants to be off the hook for an eventual withdrawal by claiming that he's forced to do it because of these benchmark failures. And if Obama's that keen to retreat, he should just do it now.(emphasis added)

The fear of making a "bad" decision is a sure mark of an amateur policy-maker, and a strong reluctance to accept responsibility for failure only reinforces that perception. I only hope that General McChrystal expected the President to eventually announce a troop deployment and mission scope significantly below that which was recommended, and has built contingencies into his plan so that the number of troops and the timeframe settled on by the White House will still be sufficient to accomplish the General's goals.


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Comments (28)

You do not dip your toe int... (Below threshold)

You do not dip your toe into a war....you go into win or get the h.ll out. This moron will get a lot of people killed.

How many soldiers had to di... (Below threshold)

How many soldiers had to die before he decided to commit troops the leaders on the ground requested?

Plus, he is addressing the nation on this next week. This guy is so narcissistic, he needs help. Who cares what he has to say. When his mouth moves, he lies. ww

WW,Pick a point of... (Below threshold)


Pick a point of time or event in the future and ask How many soilders have to die before...?

before there is a functioning government?
before Al-qaeda is defeted?

It has only been ~8 years what is your hurry?

You can't point to any death and attribute to the delay in deployment. In fact, those of the 34,000 that will be killed in Afganistan have had a little extra time with thier loved ones.

When are you going to say enough is enough and how many soilders have to die before you do?

I like how there is no ment... (Below threshold)
JustRuss IT1(SW) USN [reitred]:

I like how there is no mention in the press release about the 1-5% tax they want to put on the Rich to pay for the additional troops. Nor do they mention that NATO has decided to commit additional troops as well. All of the NATO countries together are going to send a WHOPPING 1,700 more troops.

Oh, and also I have to wonder if that "additional 34,000 troops" is actually an increase of that size in troop levels, or if that includes those that will be rotated out?

Wow! Barry's going to make... (Below threshold)

Wow! Barry's going to make "a commitment"! Of course it comes with the usual 'expiration date', but that's business as usual for Barry.

Worst thing a country's leader can hear is Barry Obama saying "Don't worry, I've got your back".

This isn't a decision.... (Below threshold)

This isn't a decision.

Note the "Off Ramps" mentioned.

The underlying problem with... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

The underlying problem with Obama's approach is that complex plans quickly fall apart in the face of armed conflict. Not that the military shouldn't produce plans for every conceivable scenario, but it was ridicules for Obama to hold up making his decision to not send 6,000 of the 40,000 troops McChrystal's requested given that any deployment is months away. Obama could have been rethinking his strategy and the final number of troops during that long deployment phase.

The cost of delaying his decision sent the message to the people of Afghanistan that the United States is not a reliable partner and that our real goal is to get out of Afghanistan as quickly and as cheaply as possible. That message undermines anything that could have been achieved by sending 34,000 more troops. Obama has already lost the war in Afghanistan.

World Citizen in liberal fa... (Below threshold)

World Citizen in liberal fashion is moving the goal posts. ww

I just knew decisiveness wa... (Below threshold)

I just knew decisiveness was one of Barrys strong suits.

WW,You seem to thi... (Below threshold)


You seem to think that sending additional troops is a some sore of goal?

What exactly are your goal posts? And when do you think the US will achieve those goals? Why haven't they been achieved yet? How long do you forsee the occupation of Afganistan? And how many soilders have to die before we can bring our men and women home?

sore = sort... (Below threshold)

sore = sort

The fear of making ... (Below threshold)

The fear of making a "bad" decision is a sure mark of an amateur policy-maker.

This is the most moronic statement I've ever heard. No one is "fearing" anything, they're simply trying to make a well-informed decision.

We had 8 years of stupid, knee-jerk foreign policy that turned this country into a joke. Thank God we have someone who believes information and discussion is a good thing.

Never a wonder you people are in the political wilderness with laughable statements like these. Keep on speaking your mind. It continues to give the world a glimpse into how "amateur", unintelligent and unqualified you are to manage or discuss anything of substance.

Hey WorldCitizen, here's a ... (Below threshold)

Hey WorldCitizen, here's a thought; why not drag your fucking ass off to some other country. Somalia immediately comes to mind.

Man, here comes more taxes ... (Below threshold)
JC Hammer:

Man, here comes more taxes on all of us to pay for this. If the previous admin would have quit dithering, paid attention to Afgan instead of being a cowboy and invading Iraq, this problem may have been over with.

Since no country in history has successfully tamed Afgan, what makes any one think the US can? History does repeat itself at times, and I think this time it will be repeated. Hope I'm wrong, but don't think so.

And soon, we will be running out of troops, so lets start drafting everyone when they get out of high school, no deferments, nada, just go and be cannon fodder.

WC, I am sticking to the su... (Below threshold)

WC, I am sticking to the subject of the post. Obama maybe could have saved some soldiers lives by giving his general what he asked for so long ago. But Obama would rather seek the best political move then the best strategic move. Why do I know it was a political decision? He wants to "explain" it to america next week. Not only does he take forever to make a decision (unless it concerns a black assult) he needs to go public with it. I do not mind. His poll numbers drop after every appearance.

I would say we should have a shot of our favorite whiskey everytime he says it is Bush's fault or the word "I" but we would die from alchohol poisoning. ww

Boy oh boy When thoughtful ... (Below threshold)

Boy oh boy When thoughtful intelligent marxist's like Barry makes up His mind He reacts in a New York mere 10 months minute!

GrandFan,Are you a... (Below threshold)


Are you a love it or leave it kind of guy? I expect when Obama gets through destroying this country you will be packing up? You can't love a socialist America, can you?


I see, you save soilders lives by putting more of them in harms way. Nice logic. I could understand if you argued that by sending the troops earlier the sooner the need for occupation would be over.

Do you really believe that the 34,000 will secure victory in Afganistan?

"We had 8 years of stupid, ... (Below threshold)

"We had 8 years of stupid, knee-jerk foreign policy that turned this country into a joke. Thank God we have someone who believes information and discussion is a good thing."

Absolutely SteveP. And toward that end, I'm reminded of Obama's words from July 23rd 2008:

"The situation in Afghanistan is perilous and urgent," he said, calling the country the "central front in the war against terrorism."

"We must act NOW to reverse a deteriorating situation," he said.

world [nutty]citizen "... (Below threshold)

world [nutty]citizen "How long do you forsee the occupation of Afganistan?"

Hard to predict the length of an "occupation" that hasn't started yet.

You need a dictionary, look under "O".

world[nutty]citizen "I... (Below threshold)

world[nutty]citizen "I see, you save soilders lives by putting more of them in harms way. Nice logic."

Well let's put it this way, you're alone against 5 gang banging thugs on a dark street at 2am.

As opposed to you and 7 friends against the same 5 thugs.

Never heard of the expression "there's strength in numbers" have you.

Marc,Occupation: t... (Below threshold)


Occupation: the seizure and control of an area by military forces, esp. foreign territory.

So you are saying we don't control Afganistan.

What is the US doing in Afganistan? Setting up forward bases in Afgan towns to win hearts and minds is not part of an occupation? Having the Army Corp of Engineers and paying contractors to build schools, hospitals, and infrastructure is not part of an occupation? How many more years would we need to be there to qualify?

WC "So you are saying ... (Below threshold)

WC "So you are saying we don't control Afganistan."

Yes, if they had the slightest modicum of control there would be one hell of a lot less fighting.

Are you making the idiotic claim the U.S. and NATO control Wazeristan and several other provences?

If so you're far more ignorant then I thought.

Marc,Coalition and... (Below threshold)


Coalition and Afgan troops already outnumber the Taliban 12 to 1. That would mean it would be 60 of me and my friends against those 5 in the alley.


Certainly, there is strength in numbers, but that is not the only thing that wins a battle much less a war.

P.S. wc, I'd suggest you vi... (Below threshold)

P.S. wc, I'd suggest you view "occupation" in a historical sense. Like Japan, an occupation that not only controlled the entire country but wrote the Constitution.

How's that going in Afghanistan? Not so good, the U.S. couldn't even prompt, despite your claims of "occupation," a legal and fair election

Marc,"Yes, if they... (Below threshold)


"Yes, if they had the slightest modicum of control there would be one hell of a lot less fighting."

34,000 more troops will finally get the job done then? They will be able to control all the provinces and the occupation can start, I mean end, I mean...what exactly is your plan? And why not share it with General Mcchrystal?

wc, why should I give "my" ... (Below threshold)

wc, why should I give "my" plan when I fail to see anything related to "your plan" outlined. I can guess though, pullout.

My plan entails following obama's General's plan To. The. Letter.

obama hasn't done that assumig reports are true.

WC, if 20 of our troops wer... (Below threshold)

WC, if 20 of our troops were surrounded by 100 of the enemy and we send in 100 to support the 20, yes, lives will be saved. Are you dense.

On your point about the increase help win the war? I have no idea but I will certainly believe a general on the ground before a spoiled, overweight, lying politician and a commenter on a blog. Cheesh! At least you amaze. ww

"Hi,I like this a... (Below threshold)

I like this article but..
Can someone tell me about Barack Obama?
I know that he is a serious candidate for '08, but I would like to know where he stands on the issues. I checked his site but nowhere can I find the info. i am looking for.
so please tell me..."

Hes in the mold of Mao Alinsky.







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