I've been saying for the last two months (sometimes with the media so it's documented) that President Obama will deploy more troops to Afghanistan. After all, he made it his fight, picked McChrystal to run it, and appeared to be working to find a solution. Due to General Jones insistence, he will send less than General McChrystal has requested (there are reports that the request was 80k) - the news reports that the request was for 40k more. Most likely it will be tens of thousands of US troops and thousands of NATO troops (reports coming in that the UK will send one more battalion than scheduled).
With regards to NATO and COIN, more work needs to be done. We have heard about the good work of the Canadians, the Brits, the Lithuanians, the Poles and even the French (yes, the French - I had a good friend who worked with them tell me he could use hundreds more like the men he worked with). And we need more of them. I think we could do without the Germans and some of the others. We need to expand the COIN academy to be able to train those troops effectively. We also need a lot more State and NGO involvement.
We also need to move off of the FOB. Push out. And that goes for Bagram too. If you're wearing a glow in the dark belt to go to chow or the gym or Pizza Hut and you're not working at a hospital or the flight line or depot maintenance, chances are you could be doing more away from the FOB. If you're on Bagram and you're carrying a brand new rifle, perhaps we should think about getting the new equipment to the men in the COBs and FOBs and outposts that are using damaged (combat) or barely acceptable equipment.
My criticism for the President, believing as I do that he wants to have victory in Afghanistan, is that he has used the delay ("dithering" to some) to try to club Karzai into reforming his government. Perhaps the administration thought that Karzai would have lost the election. Perhaps the administration believed that they could strong arm Karzai. Perhaps the administration wanted to give their political base the imagery of the President's agonizing over the unpopular decision to fight the war. Perhaps the administration was waiting for the right photo opportunity. Perhaps the administration was waiting to see how close Pakistan was to the precipice of collapse.
It's probably all of the above.
Which points to a distinct lack of experience and a distinct disregard for the troops fighting this war. It's also evidence of a President who is campaigning rather than governing. That's not the "get 'er done" mentality - that's the "how can we use this delay" mentality. That's ignoring the need for a unified will to win. While that may not sit well for us, we need to come together behind Generals Petraeus and McChrystal and finish this thing.
So, tomorrow, when the President announces this troop increase along with a plan to end the conflict, be wary of those who deem it an "exit strategy." We might not ever leave Afghanistan - there most likely will always be advisers. Most likely, in terms of endgame, his plan will be like the one for Iraq (no distinct timetables...yet). We all know that Afghanistan is completely different than Iraq. We all know that Afghanistan is the most formidable territory to fight and win on. We all know that this won't be over in 2011 so don't let anyone off the hook who tries to claim that it's possible.
We must be behind the effort and support our troops in a time of war.
No matter who our President is...
Update: Two additional points.
1. We will take a lot more casualties. It always happens when we go on the offensive. And now the Taliban have all winter to refit and plan.
2. I want to be clear that more troops is not the whole answer to victory. A change in mentality, strategy, and willpower is the change we need in Afghanistan. I probably could have written an entire treatise on the need for more COIN training for troops prior to setting foot on Afghan soil.
Update 2: Must reads.
A history lesson from Senator Carl Levin and Senator John Forbes Kerry is not complete without Greyhawk at the Mudville Gazette.