The military’s anticipated request for more troops to combat the insurgency in Afghanistan has divided senior advisers to President Obama as they try to determine the proper size and mission of the American effort there, officials said Thursday.
Even before the top commander in Afghanistan submits his proposal for additional forces, administration officials have begun what one called a “healthy debate” about what the priorities should be and whether more American soldiers and Marines would help achieve them.
Leading those with doubts is Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has expressed deep reservations about an expanded presence in Afghanistan on the grounds that it may distract from what he considers the more urgent goal of stabilizing Pakistan, officials said. Among those on the other side are Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative to the region, who shares the concern about Pakistan but sees more troops as vital to protecting Afghan civilians and undermining the Taliban and Al Qaeda. [continued…]
At least 90 people including 40 civilians have been killed in northern Afghanistan after Nato launched an air strike on two fuel tankers hijacked by the Taliban, Afghan officials said.
Militants seized the two trucks, which were delivering jet fuel to Nato forces, around midnight Afghan time. Nato launched the strike in Kunduz province as the Taliban fighters tried to drive the vehicles across a river, according to the local police chief, Gulam Mohyuddin.
The Nato secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, announced an investigation, saying: “A number of Taliban were killed and there is also a possibility of civilian casualties.” [continued…]
The debate over our creeping military mission in distant Afghanistan grows ever hotter, and before we march even deeper into trouble, perhaps it’s time to dig out the old Powell Doctrine and answer the eight questions it poses.
Gen. Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said these questions all must be answered with a loud YES before the United States takes military action. He listed his questions in the 1990 run-up to the Persian Gulf War, drawing heavily on the Weinberger Doctrine that was laid down by former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger during the debate over America’s ends and means in Lebanon. [continued…]
A former army major has resigned as a parliamentary aide to Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth, criticising the government’s strategy in Afghanistan.
Falkirk MP Eric Joyce said the UK could no longer justify the growing casualties in Afghanistan by saying the war would prevent terrorism back home.
The government should set a time limit on the deployment of troops, he added. [continued…]