Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A 'Mini-Surge' in Afghanistan

U.S. sending 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan

This is very smart move by the U.S. government – though there are some complications.

A brief background
Afghanistan has been off the radar here in the U.S.; nearly all policy discussions have been over Iraq. That is, until recently, when the possibility of this ‘Afghanistan surge’ came up.

Afghanistan has needed the equivalent of a small surge for a while; growing drug problems (no pun intended), a Taliban comeback in the south, and a destabilized Pakistan to the east have all complicated NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.

Even still, NATO allies have been reluctant to send more troops, even after repeated requests by the U.S.

A good idea
Not only does this ‘mini surge’ have the potential to solve many stability issues in Afghanistan, it also could encourage other countries to send more troops to Afghanistan. Or, in the case of Canada, influence their decision of whether or not to pull out all of their troops.

But back to the surge’s potential: Afghanistan has different problems, though similar, than Iraq. This is what makes the surge different in Afghanistan than the Iraqi surge. This ‘mini-surge’ will help solve some of these Afghani problems. For example, the Taliban is expected to launch another spring offensive in a couple of months. The extra troops will get there just in time to help combat this offensive.

Military stretched thin
The biggest issue most have with sending more troops to Afghanistan is the same many had with sending more to Iraq: our military is stretched. Its resources depleted, its manpower tired and overused, it will take some time for the military to fix itself up after these wars.

Luckily, the military made a smart decision (Robert Gates not looking so bad after all, eh?). A force of 3,200 Marines isn’t too many to stretch the military, but it’s just enough to make a difference.