Monday, October 26, 2009

John Kerry Opposes a Troop Increase in Afghanistan

John Kerry has been in Afghanistan for the past week or so, and this afternoon he announced that he does not support General McChrystal's request for additional troops, at least not right now. Kerry said that the following three conditions should be met prior to increasing the US troop presence:
  1. Afghan governance must be improved
  2. There needs to be more emphasis on civilian development
  3. There needs to be a supply of dependable Afghan security forces
Kerry is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so his opposition to the troop increase is a fairly significant development.

While in Afghanistan, Kerry was given credit, according to several pieces I read, for convincing Karzai to agree to the runoff with Abdullah Abdullah.

Kerry opposed the surge in Iraq pretty vehemently, if I recall correctly, so he is being consistent in his position on Afghanistan. It will be interesting to see if the White House responds in any way tomorrow or whether they continue to hold their cards close to the vest.

Kerry also called the US civilian presence in Afghanistan "disgraceful," and an article in the Post makes it sound like he is right - we have fewer than 1,000 civilians working there and fewer than 200 of those are outside of Kabul.

Yesterday 14 Americans (including soldiers and civilian drug enforcement officials) were killed in two helicopter crashes in Afghanistan. It's not clear yet whether either crash was caused by enemy fire.

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