Monday, November 30, 2009

Obama Hands Afghanistan to Taliban

A Wall Street Journal report says President Obama is against building the ranks of the Afghan police to the levels suggested by General McChrystal.

The president has a realistic view of how successful the training regimen can be, and that has helped inform his decision," a senior administration official said Sunday.

U.S. Troops and Afghan Police

If this report is true, we can see this as nothing other than handing the country to the Taliban. If we doubt that Afghanistan can have a "successful training regimen" to protect their own country, why are we there?
Mr. Obama is expected to outline broad performance goals for the Afghan government, including improvements in tackling corruption and taking control of security.

The U.S. military police in Kandahar say progress takes time and can be hard to measure. U.S. troops say some Afghan patrolmen seem honest and competent; others fear Taliban assassination and rarely venture out of their stations at night without a coalition escort.
"They have their good days and they have their bad days, said 2nd Lt. Danielle Champagne, a 24-year-old from Houma, La., and leader of Black Sheep -- 1st Platoon of the 293rd Military Police Co., the only regular U.S. force based inside Kandahar.

Inside one police outpost, Lt. Col. Abdul Qader, the Afghan station commander, said he hopes Mr. Obama uses the moment to force a crackdown on Afghan public corruption. "The police always arrest the Taliban, but when they go to court, they pay a bribe and get released," Col. Qader said.

In the bleak war assessment that he delivered to Mr. Obama earlier this year, Gen. McChrystal called for expanding the Afghan army to 240,000 and the Afghan police to 160,000, roughly twice the size of their current growth plans. The proposal initially found support within the administration, where senior officials have talked openly about wanting to quickly transfer security responsibility to Afghan forces.

But as the months-long administration strategy review has worn on, Vice President Joe Biden and other senior administration officials have become skeptical that the Afghan central government could retain, train and support so large a force, even with considerable Western support.

For U.S. forces in Afghanistan, meanwhile, the expected troop surge can't come fast enough. "We could use as many troops as possible," said Staff Sgt. Jeff Schaffer, a 25-year-old Black Sheep squad leader. "It's ridiculous to think you can tame a city like this with as few people as we have."
This is the opposite strategy of the very successful Iraq surge, which cleared and held, and trained.

Photo credit: USAF Tech. Sgt. Rebecca F. Corey

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