October 3rd, 2008
07:00 AM ET
14 years ago

Fact Check: Did Afghan general say 'surge principle' won't work?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/03/art.ap.biden.10.3.jpg caption="Sen. Joe Biden said the 'commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle won't work in Afghanistan.' "]
The Statement:
Sen. Joe Biden said at the Oct. 2 vice presidential debate that "our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan."

Get the facts!

The Facts:
Gov. Sarah Palin, who lauded the successes of the "surge strategy" in Iraq, asserted in the debate that "the surge principles, not the exact strategy, but the surge principles that have worked in Iraq need to be implemented in Afghanistan."

But Sen. Joe Biden disagreed, saying "our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan. ... He said we need more troops. We need government-building. We need to spend more money on the infrastructure in Afghanistan."

Gen. David McKiernan, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was quoted on Oct. 2 in The Washington Post as saying that "no Iraq-style 'surge' of forces will end the conflict" in Afghanistan, even though more U.S. troops are needed to take on a growing insurgency.

"Afghanistan is not Iraq," McKiernan said in Washington on Oct. 1. He also said "the word I don't use for Afghanistan is 'surge.' " He called for a "sustained commitment" leading to a political and not just a military solution.

He said Afghanistan is a "far more complex environment than I ever found in Iraq." The newspaper paraphrased him as citing the country's "unique challenges" - "the mountainous terrain, rural population, poverty, illiteracy, 400 major tribal networks and history of civil war."

The Verdict: True.

Filed under: Fact Check • Joe Biden • Sarah Palin • Vice presidential debate
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