Monday, March 26, 2012

The Logic of the Plan

I was recently relieved to read that our military still assumes we will have an offensive in Regional Command East this year. I've blogged my concerns that the White House had essentially called off the war.

The military's assumption that they'll have 68,000 US troops for 2013 makes me feel better:

During a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Allen was pressed by Senator John McCain of Arizona, the ranking Republican, for his opinion on the required American military presence in Afghanistan next year.

“My opinion is that we will need significant combat power in 2013,” General Allen responded.

Mr. McCain pressed on, asking, “Like 68,000?”

“Sixty-eight thousand is a good going-in number, sir, but I owe the president some analysis on that,” General Allen replied.

We were on offense in the south of Afghanistan in 2010 and needed 2011 to defend the gains and make sure the Taliban didn't come back. With an offensive this year in the east, we'll need troops to hold the gains in 2013 against a Taliban counter-attack. And recall that more robust sanctuaries are across the border inside Pakistan in the east.

Obviously, the military will give the president options after both this year's effort in the east and how well defending the gains is going in light of Afghan security force development.

Unless we've decide to panic, the logic of our staged offensives based on surges in troop strength that started under Bush and accelerated under Obama requires keeping a higher level of troops for at least a couple more years to achieve our objectives.