Thursday, November 26, 2009

Good Enough

Troop numbers are hardly the final word in whether we win in Afghanistan, but it is a factor. I've argued we could win with what we have and that just 40,000 more troops would seem to bridge a gap in numbers until we get more Afghans in the fight. And I think there are many ways to get Afghans into the fight. Going tribal for local defense forces is just one.

The president will commit more troops to Afghanistan. The number 35,000 seems to be the best guess right now. Add in 5,000 troops that NATO is expected to contribute and you have the amount McChrystal says is needed to win.

I still don't think the numbers are as important as the right strategy and the decision to actually fight and win, but more numbers don't hurt (unless my nightmare of losing our supply line raises its ugly head).

In that earlier post on troop numbers, I looked at requirements for 360,000 to 470,000 troops (from special forces to security guards, since all have roles in winning). With the anticipated reinforcments we'll have 103,000 US forces, 50,000 allied forces (NOTE: The number of allied forces seems to fluctuate depending on the article. I wondered about the 45,000 figure I saw and today (27th) saw a figure of 36,000. So I'm going to go to a lower figure of 41,000 allied forces with reinforcements anticipated.), 200,000 Afghan national forces, and 71,000 contract security personnel. That's 424,000 security personnel (415,000 corrected. See note above.). That doesn't even count the local defense forces and tribal forces we can get into the fight to oppose the estimated 25,000 Taliban insurgents. And with Pakistan appearing to be in it for the long haul on fighting the jihadis on their side of the border, my high end estimate for troop numbers doesn't seem to be justified by events.

The long internal debate this fall has been ridiculous, but my other nightmare that the president was looking for an excuse to retreat from Afghanistan seems to be nothing to worry about. Kudos to the president.

We shall see if Speaker Pelosi (and her sidekick Senator Reid) lets him lead us to victory.

We may have just decided to win this war. For that I will give thanks.