October 12th, 2009
06:35 PM ET
13 years ago

How many troops are enough for Afghan strategy?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/10/12/afghanistan.troops/art.soldierafghan2.gi.jpg caption="The Obama administration is working on a strategic review of improving conditions in Afghanistan."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Determining the amount of troops necessary to win a war is never an easy decision for a commander in chief and his military commanders if history is any guide.

And it's a dilemma President Obama facesas pressure mounts on him to decide what strategy will improve conditions in Afghanistan.

The president and his top military, national security and foreign policy advisers are conducting an intensive strategic review of the U.S. military presence in the war-torn nation.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is calling for a counterinsurgency strategy that would add as many as 40,000 troops.

But others in the administration want a different approach.

Vice President Joe Biden has called for a counterterrorism strategy, which would focus on using special forces and technology to reduce the number of al Qaeda insurgents on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

If the president should listen to McChrystal and adopt a troop "surge," the question remains: How many is enough?

One expert said such a large number is needed to reduce violence throughout the country - the 40,000 troops would allow the U.S. military to "reverse the momentum of the insurgency, which has been on the rise," said Kimberly Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War, who has advised McChrystal on Afghanistan.

That number, Kagan said, would help fill in gaps around Kandahar in the southern part of the country where Taliban forces have amassed. But she warned that eventually, troops would also be needed to tamp down the insurgency in other parts of the country.

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soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Shirley In California

    End the war! That's all I have to say on this subject.

    October 12, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  2. David

    Pathetic, these no-army experience guys in the administration second guessing the military, assuming these people who made it in Iraq are dummies, or that the military is still in Vietnam!!! FFfeeee.....

    October 12, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  3. rick

    has a general ever not asked for more troops?

    October 12, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  4. rightsaid

    We don't need more troops. We need a better strategy. Help them build schools on the cheap. Education is the way out of this mess.

    October 12, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  5. Eric

    How many are there now 60k? Then Obama wants 60k less troops, and he probably prefers them KIA. That is where it seems to be headed, considering how he is handling the situation. He is the single worst Commander in Chief in the history of this Republic. It is a travesty for our honorable military service members to report to this sorry S.O.B.

    October 12, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  6. 60's survivor

    intelligent strategy. what a concept!

    October 12, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  7. DR

    We do not belong in Afghanistan! This is looking just like the sixty's, and Viet Nam all over again. If you do not pay attention to History, then you will be forced to vote republican forever. If Obama can get out, he should. Let's bring home our military and defend our own country.

    October 12, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  8. veteran

    Isn't it funny how during the Bush years this conflict was the only legitimate one and was being neglected and now that "they" are in charge we neglect it and maybe "cut and run"!

    October 12, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  9. Ancient Texan

    The President requested Gen McChrystal, appointed him the Commander, now questions the Generals evaluation and request? Could it be the Pacifist Wing of the Wimpy Democratic Party has spoken? Obama needs to send exactly what the General requested;40,000 troops. Joe Biden's military expertise is a little lacking, since he was willing to surrender in Iraq.

    October 12, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  10. Sounds Very Familiar

    JFK all over again. Before you know it this 40,000 will make it 140,000 (that's a number they don't say in the article), followed by another 50,000 (well if 40,000 was acceptable, add just a little more on the next request), totaling almost 200,000, etc etc etc.......

    October 12, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  11. veteran

    Haven't seen Osama caught by Obama yet either! He's had 9 months!

    October 12, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  12. Sounds Very Familiar

    It is an ideaology that we are fighting, not a country, not a military... it is theology. Knock down one layer of fighers and you still have to face the next class of fanatics that come out their religious schools.

    Therefore, we can not win the war, only the battle.

    October 12, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  13. www.twitter.com/whybs

    Heck, give McChrystal more than he requests and consider it done! McChrystal can't blame anyone else!

    Left wingnuts sign up for C.O. (Conscientious Objector) status; right wingnuts join the draft as our ultimate patriots; we create jobs and get-the-911-thugs stimulus passed!!!

    It's a win-win situation for everyone!

    Really, it's that simple! 🙂

    October 12, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  14. Ryan, Council Bluffs

    What's the strategy, Mr Obama? Mr Nobel Peace Prize Winner will we all sit down and sing Kum Ba Ya.

    October 12, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  15. johnnie w

    Dont Worry about CNN the President KNOWS WHAT TO DO,this is not going to help the in 2010 elections at ALL, So CNN stop trying to make this a SO CALLED advantage for that SORRY GOP,it will work ,and tell that to John Klein and Lou Dobbs .John King, Bill TUB Bennett.

    October 12, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  16. JonDie

    No amount of troops will fix Bush's six years of doing NOTHING in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2008. The sad truth is that we had our chance to something in Afghanistan...and BUSH blew it. The time to get out is now.

    October 12, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  17. johnnie w

    CNN is so RIGHT WING

    October 12, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  18. Nobel Prize for the Teleprompter!

    Guess we won't know for a while. Our so-called commander in chief is sitting on his butt contemplating his navel.

    October 12, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  19. New Yorker

    Does anyone really think Obama cares what the top U.S Commander in Afghanistan says? Obama has an agenda and giving the troops the support they need right now is not part of his plan.
    Great president,eh?

    October 12, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  20. A Democrat of 51 years who has finally got smart to their foolishness.

    As many as the General request, you idiots. From a Soldier of 28 years. We haven't won a war since WWII. You can rest all this on the shoulders of the hippies, baby boomers and the do nothing White House. Either back our soldiers or don't dare send them to war. That's the same as lining them up on a wall for a firing squad. OUR GOVERNMENT MUST BECOME PATROITIC WITHOUT WORRYING WHAT OTHER COUNTRIES THINK OF US. HADES THEY HATE US ALREADY BECAUSE OF OUR PAST SUCCESSES.

    October 12, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
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