General grim on war’s odds
Report calls for more troops, strategy change
WASHINGTON – Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said in a confidential report that without additional forces, the war against insurgents there will end in failure, the Washington Post reported today.
McChrystal’s grim assessment of the war was published on the Post’s Web site, with some portions withheld at the government’s request.
“Although considerable effort and sacrifice have resulted in some progress, many indicators suggest the overall effort is deteriorating,” McChrystal wrote in his summary.
The report was sent to Defense Secretary Robert Gates in August and is now under review by President Barack Obama, who is trying to decide whether to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
While asking for more troops, McChrystal also pointed out “the urgent need for a significant change to our strategy.” The U.S. needs to interact better with the Afghan people, McChrystal said, and better organize its efforts with NATO allies.
The Pentagon and the White House are awaiting a separate, more detailed request for additional troops and resources. Media reports Friday and Saturday said McChrystal has finished it but was told to pocket it, partly because of the charged politics surrounding the decision. McChrystal’s senior spokesman, Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, said Sunday that the report is not complete.
“The resource request is being finalized and will be sent forward to the chain of command at some point in the near future,” Smith said from Afghanistan.
Obama denied asking McChrystal to sit on the request, but he said in a series of television interviews broadcast Sunday that he will not allow politics to govern his decision. He left little doubt he is re-evaluating whether more forces will do any good.
“The first question is, ‘Are we doing the right thing?’ ” Obama said. “Are we pursuing the right strategy?”
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