Poor Results Prompt US to Revise Military Strategy in Afghanistan

Gen. Stanley McChrystal is reexamining the American military strategy in Afghanistan, and has stressed that Afghan forces must take the lead.

McChrystal’s Strategy Review

U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, has called for a revision of the current American military strategy, and has said that “the situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort,” the BBC reports.

Although the official report hasn’t been published yet, the BBC notes that “Gen. McChrystal sees protecting the Afghan people against the Taliban as the top priority.” McChrystal also believes that an increased engagement with Taliban fighters would be very helpful, and that “60% of the problem would go away if they could be found jobs,” according to the BBC.

The report doesn’t call for an increase in American troops. In May, however, President Obama declared he would send reinforcements in order to “stabilize Afghanistan, and better train the Afghan police and military to take on the Taliban insurgency,” Jonathan Adams writes for The Christian Science Monitor. According to the BBC, more than 30,000 American troops have been deployed in Afghanistan since May, “increasing the Western total to about 100,000.”

As Peter Graff reports for Reuters, the additional forces sent to Afghanistan during the past two months have succeeded in taking over some Taliban-held areas. In terms of troops, Graff writes that McChrystal’s revision “is expected to suggest concentrating forces in more heavily populated areas, and also stepping up efforts to train Afghan soldiers and police.” But the BBC reports that it could take years for the poorly trained Afghan forces to take the lead in the defense against the Taliban.

Reactions: A “crisis of confidence” in Afghanistan and the US

Mark Mardell, editor for BBC North America, writes that the lack of immediate success in the war against the Taliban has plunged the Afghan people into “a crisis of confidence” because their lives have not improved.

Wais Barmak, deputy minister of rural rehabilitation in Afghanistan, believes that the U.S. should have worked together with the Afghans from the start, devising a conjoined military strategy that exploited the strengths of both parties. “We would have had better achievements, better results, if the Afghans were consulted right from the beginning,” he told the BBC.

The Washington Post reports that the American population as a whole is losing faith in an extended commitment to the Afghanistan conflict. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that “51 percent [of American adults] now say the war is not worth fighting.”

Related Topic: Tourism in Afghanistan

Casting aside concerns over vicious fighting in the south, eager tour guides and restaurant owners are focused on hospitality in the center of Afghanistan’s Bamiyan valley. Their efforts could entice tourists seeking adventure and history, and may help normalize life in the war-torn country.

One particularly enticing attraction in Bamiyan is Band-e Amir, a valley that the BBC’s Alastair Leithead likens to the Grand Canyon, but “flooded with deep sapphire lakes.” An eight-hour trek on dirt roads is required to reach it, and while the views are astounding, the valley is mostly deserted. According to Leithead, the “deteriorating security situation in the surrounding provinces” has deterred visitors, a situation that can only be fixed with better funding. Unfortunately, most aid is given to Afghanistan’s danger zones.