An Australian counter-insurgency specialist, who was one of the
architects of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq, has told the U.S. Senate
Foreign Relations Committee in Washington that Afghanistan is on the
brink of complete collapse. As the Obama administration prepares to
increase its military presence in Afghanistan, David Kilcullen has said
that 2009 will be a critical year for allied forces. Australia has said
it would only consider sending additional troops to Afghanistan if NATO
countries did the same.
Kilcullen has been giving advice to the powerful U.S. Senate Foreign
Relations Committee about the best course of action in Afghanistan.
security expert, who was instrumental in shaping the U.S. troop surge
in Iraq, has compared the worsening situation in Afghanistan to the
He has warned that unless American commanders can stabilize Afghanistan, the country will fail.
level of violence in terms of violent incidents is up about 40 percent
on this time last year," said Kilcullen. "Popular support for the
government and government legitimacy is collapsing, so I think it's no
exaggeration to say that it is a critical year in Afghanistan and if we
don't get it right this year, we may not succeed."
former Australian infantry officer, has said that redeploying large
numbers of soldiers from Iraq to Afghanistan might not have the same
"big impact" the surge managed to create during the Iraqi conflict.
has suggested that rather than focusing on taking the fight to
insurgents, protecting the Afghan population could transform the
campaign there. The thinking is that if people feel safe they are more
likely to engage in the political process, which is what he says has
happened in Iraq.
The United States is considering doubling its
troop presence in Afghanistan this year to roughly 60,000 in a bid to
regain the initiative from Taliban militants and prop up the government
of embattled Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Australia has about 1,000 military personnel in Afghanistan and defense officials in
Canberra have said they would consider a request from U.S. President
Barack Obama to increase those levels but only if other NATO members
also commit greater numbers to the South Asia nation.
Kilcullen has said that Australia might better serve its international
partners by sending civilian administrators to rebuild the mechanisms
of government in Afghanistan as it has done to some of its troubled
neighbors in the South Pacific, most notably in Papua New Guinea and
the Solomon Islands.