Is Obama laying the groundwork for a withdrawal from Afghanistan?

It's an issue not addressed directly in this article from the Times OnLine about questions surrounding an Afghan "surge" in troops. But Obama wondering about an "exit strategy" for those troops makes me think he is looking for an "out."

The Pentagon was set to announce the deployment of 17,000 extra soldiers and marines last week but Robert Gates, the defence secretary, postponed the decision after questions from Obama.

The president was concerned by a lack of strategy at his first meeting with Gates and the US joint chiefs of staff last month in “the tank”, the secure conference room in the Pentagon. He asked: “What’s the endgame?” and did not receive a convincing answer.

Larry Korb, a defence expert at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank, said: “Obama is exactly right. Before he agrees to send 30,000 troops, he wants to know what the mission and the endgame is.”

Obama promised an extra 7,000-10,000 troops during the election campaign but the military has inflated its demands. Leading Democrats fear Afghanistan could become Obama’s “Vietnam quagmire”.

If the surge goes ahead the military intend to limit the mission to fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and leave democracy building and reconstruction to Nato allies and civilians from the State Department and other agencies.

That seems pretty clear to me; find the enemy and kill him. The problem is that the enemy has a safe haven in a country that does not allow "hot pursuit" engagements and refuses to commit to getting control of the areas where al-Qaeda and the Taliban are based.

The question is not so much how many troops for Afghanistan but rather what do we do about Pakistan?

All Obama could come up with during the campaign was criticizing the Bush Administration for its Pakistan policy. Now that he is sitting in the Big Chair, the world, I'm sure looks a little more complicated. Unless we want to commit to defying the Pakistani government and pull a Cambodia like incursion to go after the enemy where he lives, the chances of success are not good. As long as the enemy can infiltrate along the border, Afghanistan will be unstable and in danger.

Training a competent Afghanistani army will help. But this is a long term solution. What is really needed is more NATO troops - even if it to only handle reconstruction and nation building tasks - as well as a bigger commitment in combat forces from those willing to have their people engage the Taliban. 

Afghanistan was always a long term project which is why we got NATO involved in the first place. It appears our new president is more concerned with finding a way out of Afghanistan, leaving the job undone, rather than doing whatever it takes to prevent the enemy from winning.



It's an issue not addressed directly in this article from the Times OnLine about questions surrounding an Afghan "surge" in troops. But Obama wondering about an "exit strategy" for those troops makes me think he is looking for an "out."

The Pentagon was set to announce the deployment of 17,000 extra soldiers and marines last week but Robert Gates, the defence secretary, postponed the decision after questions from Obama.

The president was concerned by a lack of strategy at his first meeting with Gates and the US joint chiefs of staff last month in “the tank”, the secure conference room in the Pentagon. He asked: “What’s the endgame?” and did not receive a convincing answer.

Larry Korb, a defence expert at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank, said: “Obama is exactly right. Before he agrees to send 30,000 troops, he wants to know what the mission and the endgame is.”

Obama promised an extra 7,000-10,000 troops during the election campaign but the military has inflated its demands. Leading Democrats fear Afghanistan could become Obama’s “Vietnam quagmire”.

If the surge goes ahead the military intend to limit the mission to fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and leave democracy building and reconstruction to Nato allies and civilians from the State Department and other agencies.

That seems pretty clear to me; find the enemy and kill him. The problem is that the enemy has a safe haven in a country that does not allow "hot pursuit" engagements and refuses to commit to getting control of the areas where al-Qaeda and the Taliban are based.

The question is not so much how many troops for Afghanistan but rather what do we do about Pakistan?

All Obama could come up with during the campaign was criticizing the Bush Administration for its Pakistan policy. Now that he is sitting in the Big Chair, the world, I'm sure looks a little more complicated. Unless we want to commit to defying the Pakistani government and pull a Cambodia like incursion to go after the enemy where he lives, the chances of success are not good. As long as the enemy can infiltrate along the border, Afghanistan will be unstable and in danger.

Training a competent Afghanistani army will help. But this is a long term solution. What is really needed is more NATO troops - even if it to only handle reconstruction and nation building tasks - as well as a bigger commitment in combat forces from those willing to have their people engage the Taliban. 

Afghanistan was always a long term project which is why we got NATO involved in the first place. It appears our new president is more concerned with finding a way out of Afghanistan, leaving the job undone, rather than doing whatever it takes to prevent the enemy from winning.