By John J. Kruzel, American Forces Press ServiceDecember 2, 2009
WASHINGTON (Dec. 1, 2009) -- The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan today expressed support for a new strategy that entails sending 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan by next summer and begins a drawdown of forces in July 2011.
President Barack Obama articulated the plan today in a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. - culminating months of deliberation with his senior advisors on the way forward.
"The Afghanistan-Pakistan review led by the president has provided me with a clear military mission and the resources to accomplish our task," Gen. Stanley McChrystal said in a published statement. "The clarity, commitment and resolve outlined in the president's address are critical steps toward bringing security to Afghanistan and eliminating terrorist safe havens that threaten regional and global security."
The goals Obama outlined in the speech include reversing momentum the Taliban has made in past years and securing key population centers in Afghanistan -- especially in the contentious southern and eastern regions.
The added troops will bring the total number of U.S. forces to nearly 100,000, in addition to a complement of roughly 42,000 allied troops. McChrystal said the 42 other nations contributing forces will benefit from a strengthened U.S. commitment.
"The concerted commitment of the international community will prevail in bringing real change to Afghanistan -- a secure and stable environment that allows for effective governance, improved economic opportunity and the freedom of every Afghan to choose how they live," he said.
Senior administration officials today said the additional U.S. troops will likely comprise two or three more brigade combat teams and a brigade-sized element committed to embedding with and training their Afghan counterparts - a key component undergirding the transfer of responsibility to Afghanistan to begin July 2011.
"Our Afghan partners need the support of coalition forces while we grow and develop the capacity of the Afghan army and police," McChrystal said. "That will be the main focus of our campaign in the months ahead."
The general said efforts to overcome challenges in Afghanistan are sustained by the reality that neither the Afghan people nor the international community wants the country to remain a sanctuary for terror and violence.
"The coalition is encouraged by President Obama's commitment and we remain resolute to empowering the Afghan people to reject the insurgency and build their own future," he said.