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McChrystal predicts “real progress” in Afghanistan by December

With all the talk in Washington about Amb. Karl Eikenberry’s leaked cables opposing President Obama’s surge strategy, his military counterpart Gen. Stanley McChrystal is right on message, predicting the path to victory will be clear by the time the troops start to leave in the middle of next year. McChrystal is setting six-month milestones for ...

With all the talk in Washington about Amb. Karl Eikenberry’s leaked cables opposing President Obama’s surge strategy, his military counterpart Gen. Stanley McChrystal is right on message, predicting the path to victory will be clear by the time the troops start to leave in the middle of next year.

McChrystal is setting six-month milestones for progress in a talk in Kabul, shown in this video provided by NATO TV:

"I believe that by this coming summer, it’s going to be obvious to the people in this room that things have changed, but it won’t be obvious to people 3,000 miles or 10,000 miles away," he says in the video, predicting progress just as additional combat troops begin to arrive

"I think by next December, we’ll be able to show with hard numbers and things, real progress," McChrystal goes on, without getting into specifics. "We’ll be able to go ‘Look, here’s more areas we cover, here’s this, this, this.’"

Here’s the kicker:

"And I think by the summer of 2011, it will be enough progress where the Afghans and the Taliban particularly, believe it, believe they’re not going to win," McChrystal says, identifying the breaking point of the Taliban as around the same time U.S. forces are slated to begin withdrawing.

Seeming to contradict himself, McChrystal also speaks at length about the need to have a sustained presence in remote Afghan areas to convince locals to take the huge risk of turning on the Taliban and siding with Afghan and NATO forces. He talks about the need to stay and prove to locals that their long-term interest is in supporting and even defending the government before the coalition can transfer security to Afghan control.

McChrystal also addresses the controversial issue of reintegrating Taliban fighters. Most foreign fighters can’t be reintegrated, he says, and most local fighters won’t switch sides — they will simply decide to stop attacking the government forces.

"I think a lot of reintegration won’t be formal," says McChrystal. "It will just be, you’ll just notice there are fewer of them."

With all the talk in Washington about Amb. Karl Eikenberry’s leaked cables opposing President Obama’s surge strategy, his military counterpart Gen. Stanley McChrystal is right on message, predicting the path to victory will be clear by the time the troops start to leave in the middle of next year.

McChrystal is setting six-month milestones for progress in a talk in Kabul, shown in this video provided by NATO TV:

"I believe that by this coming summer, it’s going to be obvious to the people in this room that things have changed, but it won’t be obvious to people 3,000 miles or 10,000 miles away," he says in the video, predicting progress just as additional combat troops begin to arrive

"I think by next December, we’ll be able to show with hard numbers and things, real progress," McChrystal goes on, without getting into specifics. "We’ll be able to go ‘Look, here’s more areas we cover, here’s this, this, this.’"

Here’s the kicker:

"And I think by the summer of 2011, it will be enough progress where the Afghans and the Taliban particularly, believe it, believe they’re not going to win," McChrystal says, identifying the breaking point of the Taliban as around the same time U.S. forces are slated to begin withdrawing.

Seeming to contradict himself, McChrystal also speaks at length about the need to have a sustained presence in remote Afghan areas to convince locals to take the huge risk of turning on the Taliban and siding with Afghan and NATO forces. He talks about the need to stay and prove to locals that their long-term interest is in supporting and even defending the government before the coalition can transfer security to Afghan control.

McChrystal also addresses the controversial issue of reintegrating Taliban fighters. Most foreign fighters can’t be reintegrated, he says, and most local fighters won’t switch sides — they will simply decide to stop attacking the government forces.

"I think a lot of reintegration won’t be formal," says McChrystal. "It will just be, you’ll just notice there are fewer of them."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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