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Monday, May 10, 2010

Pentagon report on Afghanistan 4/26

From Stars and Stripes
By Jeff Schogol
Stars and Stripes online edition, Wednesday, April 28, 2010
• Read the report (FULL TEXT AVAILABLE; see above link) (PDF, 4MB)

ARLINGTON, Va. — Despite the addition of more than 50,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan over the past year, there still aren’t enough forces to conduct operations in the majority of key areas, according to a congressionally mandated report released Wednesday on progress in Afghanistan.

Coalition forces have decided to focus their efforts on 121 key districts in Afghanistan, but right now, NATO has enough forces to operate in only 48 of those districts, the report said.

There are currently 86,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, up from about 30,000 when President Barack Obama took office. By August, there will be 98,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

With the rest of the U.S. and foreign partner troops that will arrive in Afghanistan this year, coalition and Afghan security forces will be able to focus on all 121 districts "over coming months," a senior Defense official said Wednesday, declining to be more specific.

Also, from Inter Press Service (IPS)

Pentagon Doubts Grow on McChrystal War Plan
Analysis by Gareth Porter*

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2010 (IPS) - Although Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's plan for wresting the Afghan provinces of Helmand and Kandahar from the Taliban is still in its early stages of implementation, there are already signs that setbacks and obstacles it has encountered have raised serious doubts among top military officials in Washington about whether the plan is going to work.

Scepticism about McChrystal's ambitious aims was implicit in the way the Pentagon report on the war issued Apr. 26 assessed the progress of the campaign in Marja. Now, as Afghan President Hamid Karzai begins a four-day round of consultations with President Barack Obama and other senior U.S. officials here this week, the new report has been given even more pointed expression by an unnamed "senior military official" quoted in a column in the Washington Post Sunday by David Ignatius.

The senior military officer criticised McChrystal's announcement in February that he had "a government in a box, ready to roll in" for the Marja campaign, for having created "an expectation of rapidity and efficiency that doesn't exist now", according to Ignatius.

The same military official is also quoted as pointing out that parts of Helmand that were supposed to have been cleared by the offensive in February and March are in fact still under Taliban control and that Afghan government performance in the wake of the offensive had been disappointing, according to Ignatius.

The outlook at the Pentagon and the White House on the nascent Kandahar offensive is also pessimistic, judging from the comment to Ignatius by an unnamed "senior administration official". The official told Ignatius the operation is "still a work in progress", observing that McChrystal's command was still trying to decide how much of the local government the military could "salvage" and how much "you have to rebuild".

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