News

    2010 Key Year for Obama Afghan Strategy

    2009 will be remembered as the year U.S. military priorities shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan. And 2010 will be the year of the 'Afghan surge.'

    Marines of 2nd Battalion 2 Marines of 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade fire mortar rounds from their forward operating base in Mian Poshteh in Helmand Province, 23 Nov 2009
    Marines of 2nd Battalion 2 Marines of 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade fire mortar rounds from their forward operating base in Mian Poshteh in Helmand Province, 23 Nov 2009

    Multimedia

    Al Pessin

    It was a difficult decision for the president - three months in the making.  But on December 1 he finally announced his plan. 

    "This review is now complete," said Mr. Obama. "And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan."

    The president said his goal was to "seize the initiative" from the Taliban, and to begin bringing U.S. troops home in 18 months.

    That decision set in motion a massive effort to move troops and equipment to Afghanistan, just as the U.S. military is preparing to withdraw more than 60,000 of its troops now in Iraq.

    Strategic implications

    It is a daunting logistical challenge.  But the strategic implications are even more significant.

    During a visit to Afghanistan in December, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. troop increase, and at least seven thousand more from other nations, demonstrates "unwavering resolve" to help Afghanistan for the long term.

    "The United States and our many friends and allies around the globe are determined to defeat those who stand between you and a peaceful and prosperous future," he said. "Together we will succeed and our partnership will flourish for decades to come."

    But the first part of that, defeating the insurgency, will be the most difficult.

    "What we would expect to see over the course of 2010, as the forces flow into the theater [of war], is a spike in violence levels and casualty levels as the enemy challenges their entry into theater," said Kim Kagan, founder and director of the Institute for the Study of War. 

    She says in the coming months U.S., international and Afghan forces need to secure Afghan towns, fight hard-core insurgents and convince Taliban foot soldiers to change their allegiance to the government. 

    "What we have seen work so well in Iraq, that we need to replicate appropriately in Afghanistan is a counterinsurgency campaign that really makes it possible for the population to support the government, or at the very least to reject the insurgency," said Kagan.

    Creating responsive government

    And at the same time, she says, U.S. forces must build the Afghan forces and a coordinated international effort must fight corruption and build the capacity of the Afghan government.  She believes that type of approach can turn the situation in Afghanistan around.

    But not all experts agree.  Retired U.S. Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich, now a professor of History and International Relations at Boston University, says creating security and responsive government in Afghanistan may be impossible and is not necessary for U.S. national security.

    "I fear that three years from now, he won't have achieved the results that he expected, and he'll be faced with a decision at that point, either to extend the mission and pay even greater costs, on the one hand, or he'll have to acknowledge failure at the cost of having expended several hundred billion dollars and, no doubt, having lost several hundred additional American lives," he said.

    The former commander of international forces in southern Afghanistan, Dutch Major General Mart de Kruif, would disagree with that.

    "What we did in southern Afghanistan, is that we proved that the concept is right," he said.  "If you deploy more forces [as we did] in July and August, then you will see the effect that you expect to see." he said.

    The general is referring to progress in parts of southern Afghanistan where President Obama deployed more forces earlier this year.

    Will Afghan surge work?

    Which view is correct will be determined largely in 2010.  The president plans a strategy review next December, and commanders will have to prove to him they are on track to begin withdrawing U.S. troops by his July 2011 deadline.  Even surge supporter Kim Kagan acknowledges the outcome is not guaranteed.

    "We do have to remember that war is a risky business and there is no assurance any particular force level will guarantee success," she said.

    And the experts stress that even if the president's strategy proves itself in 2010, it will take several more years of international military assistance, and more years after that of funding and civilian aid, to fully stabilize Afghanistan. 

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora