Does Afghanistan need a troop surge?

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images I see that both Barack Obama and John McCain are now calling for more trigger-pullers in Afghanistan, where the situation is deteriorating fast. Obama wants to send about 7,000 additional troops, while McCain is calling for a “surge” modeled on last year’s influx of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq. The main difference ...

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594000_080715_karzai2.jpg

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images

I see that both Barack Obama and John McCain are now calling for more trigger-pullers in Afghanistan, where the situation is deteriorating fast. Obama wants to send about 7,000 additional troops, while McCain is calling for a "surge" modeled on last year's influx of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq. The main difference between the two men appears to be that Obama wants to redeploy troops from Iraq, whereas McCain would withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq at a much slower rate, if at all. [UPDATE: More on McCain's strategy here.]

As the New York Sun's Eli Lake notes, McCain has been coy about exactly what he would do in Afghanistan, as well as what his policy might be toward its problematic southern neighbor, Pakistan.

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images

I see that both Barack Obama and John McCain are now calling for more trigger-pullers in Afghanistan, where the situation is deteriorating fast. Obama wants to send about 7,000 additional troops, while McCain is calling for a “surge” modeled on last year’s influx of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq. The main difference between the two men appears to be that Obama wants to redeploy troops from Iraq, whereas McCain would withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq at a much slower rate, if at all. [UPDATE: More on McCain’s strategy here.]

As the New York Sun‘s Eli Lake notes, McCain has been coy about exactly what he would do in Afghanistan, as well as what his policy might be toward its problematic southern neighbor, Pakistan.

So, is “more troops” the answer? Not necessarily. “Sending more forces, by itself, is not enough to prevail,” the Arizona senator acknowledged today.

What, then? It’s hard to say until we see McCain’s plan, but a plausible strategy for victory might look like something like this. Seth G. Jones, a sharp analyst at Rand who has recently returned from the region, argues in a new Web exclusive for FP that saving Afghanistan and its president, Hamid Karzai, requires a much broader political and military counterinsurgency approach than exists today. In a nutshell, improving the police, tackling corruption, and stabilizing Pakistan are the keys to success.

Check it out, and take a look at Jones’s more in-depth series of reports on the subject for Rand.

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