Blackfive Live Blogs the Reaction to the President's Afghan Plan tonight
Obama's Afghan Strategy

Obama's plan for Afghanistan

UPDATE: Sarah Palin makes an interesting statement.

At long last, President Obama decided to give his military commanders much of what they need to accomplish their mission in Afghanistan. In the end, he decided to endorse a “surge” for Afghanistan, applying the counterinsurgency principles of “clear, hold and build” that worked so well in Iraq. Given that he opposed the surge in Iraq, it is even more welcome that he now supports a surge in Afghanistan.

I'm sorry did I miss something? He never said he was gonna do COIN and he certainly didn't say anything about "clear, hold and build". He didn't articulate any strategy at all. He had a goal of knocking back the Taliban, but didn't mention what our troops were going to do. Let me know if I missed something.

My full reaction is not here, that would be inappropriate. I was not thrilled, to say the least. You know where the straight skinny will be applied..

Here is the only place he even gets near a strategy

These facts compel us to act along with our friends and allies. Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.

To meet that goal, we will pursue the following objectives within Afghanistan. We must deny al Qaeda a safe haven. We must reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan's future.

We will meet these objectives in three ways. First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban's momentum and increase Afghanistan's capacity over the next 18 months.

The 30,000 additional troops that I'm announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 -- the fastest possible pace -- so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They'll increase our ability to train competent Afghan security forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.

The goal is pretty ephemeral, but it is somewhat understandable. Then he gets to the strategy.

First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban's momentum and increase Afghanistan's capacity over the next 18 months.

What strategy would that be exactly?

so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They'll increase our ability to train competent Afghan security forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.

Yeah but what strategy is that exactly? Insurgency-targeting is not a strategy, kinetic operations to either kill bad guys or hold land is. Training Afghans is a technique, not a strategy. Creating conditions for a turnover is not a strategy. Near as I can tell the strategy is reinforce, attack and then begin retreating in 18 months. Dear Mr. Karzai, here are the keys to you democracy, if you can keep it.

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