February 11, 2009
The assessment of Col John Nagl, who is consulting the US government as it conducts four separate policy reviews on Afghanistan, comes amid fears that unless the insurgents’ advance is halted, Afghanistan will become the new president’s Vietnam.
Adm Mullen has said he expected to announce the deployment of a further 30,000 US troops soon, even though the Obama administration is waiting to evaluate the reviews.
“The commander on the ground has asked for additional forces and meeting those requirements against the overall strategy is something that I have an expectation to get directed to do,” he said.
The anticipation in military circles is that the president will agree not only to the extra troops but to the adoption of the approach that worked well in Iraq, whereby US forces concentrate less seeking out and killing insurgents. Instead they followed a “clear, hold, build” strategy designed to consolidate gains and prevent captured towns falling back into enemy hands.
Col Nagl, an Iraq veteran who helped devise the successful strategy there under the aegis of Gen David Petraeus, told The Daily Telegraph that the gains made by the Taliban over the past two years need to be reversed by the end of the traditional fighting season in Afghanistan, around late September or early October, or else the Taliban will establish a durable base that would make a sustained Western military presence futile.
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