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Feb 4th, 2009

Pentagon Study: Change Course in Afghanistan

Report urges less democracy-building and more strikes on Taliban, al-Qaida

Image: Aftermath of U.S. strike in Ghazni, Afghanistan
Afghan demonstrators gather after a U.S. operation in their village in Qarabagh district of Ghazni, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Feb. 2, 2009. (Photo credit: Rahmatullah Naikzad / AP)

The Associated Press via
February 3, 2009

WASHINGTON — A classified Pentagon report urges President Barack Obama to shift U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, de-emphasizing democracy-building and concentrating more on targeting Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries inside Pakistan with the aid of Pakistani military forces.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has seen the report prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but it has not yet been presented to the White House, officials said Tuesday. The recommendations are one element of a broad policy reassessment under way along with recommendations to be considered by the White House from the commander of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. David Petraeus, and other military leaders.

In an interview with NBC News’ Brian Williams on Tuesday Obama didn’t specifically comment on the report but said it was “encouraging” that there is now a “convergence between myself and the joint chiefs and my national security team about what we have to do” on a variety of national security questions, including Afghanistan.

There is a shared view among the joint chiefs, Obama said, that “Afghanistan is getting worse, not getting better.” …

More than U.S. can handle?

The Joint Chiefs’ plan reflects growing worries that the U.S. military was taking on more than it could handle in Afghanistan by pursuing the Bush administration’s broad goal of nurturing a thriving democratic government.

Instead, the plan calls for a more narrowly focused effort to root out militant strongholds along the Pakistani border and inside the neighboring country, according to officials who confirmed the essence of the report. …

‘Art of the possible’

“The bottom line is we have to look at what the art of the possible is there,” said a U.S. military official who has operated in Afghanistan. The official, who has not seen the Joint Chiefs’ report, said the challenge is to craft a strategy that achieves U.S. goals of stabilizing the region and constraining al-Qaida, but also takes into account the powerful tribes that resist a strong central government and the ties among ethnic Pashtuns on either side of the Afghan-Pakistan border. …

The report also stresses that Afghan strategy must be driven by what the Afghans want, and that the U.S. cannot impose its own goals on the Afghanistan government.

During discussions about a new Afghanistan strategy, military leaders expressed worries that the U.S. ambitions in Afghanistan — to stabilize the country and begin to build a democracy there — were beyond its ability.

And as they tried to balance military demands in both Iraq and Afghanistan, some increasingly questioned why the U.S. continued to maintain a war-fighting force in Iraq, even though the mission there has shifted to a more support role. Those fighting forces, they argued, were needed more urgently in Afghanistan. …

Gates wants focus on terrorists

Gates told armed services committees in Congress last week that the U.S. should keep its sights on one thing: preventing Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists who would harm the U.S. or its allies. He bluntly added that the military could not root out terrorists while also propping up Afghanistan’s fledgling democracy.

“Afghanistan is the fourth or fifth poorest country in the world, and if we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose,” Gates said, a mythology reference to heaven. …

Full report



‘Mother’ of Iraqi Women Suicide Bombers Held

A woman accused of helping recruit dozens of female suicide bombers looked into the camera and described the process: trolling society for likely candidates, then patiently converting the women into deadly attackers. Samira Ahmed Jassim is suspected of recruiting more than 80 female suicide bombers in Iraq. (Photo credit: Qassim Abdul-Zahra / AP)

Full story


Related report

Some attacks by female suicide bombers in Iraq


Previous report on the mujahidaat

Iraq — An Emerging Threat (click and scroll down)

Farhana Ali and Jerrold Post, ISPP meeting, Sciences Po, Paris, July 12, 2008.
Farhana Ali (RAND Corporation) and Jerrold M. Post, M.D. (George Washington University) at a counterterrorism panel at the International Society of Political Psychology meeting in Paris, July 12, 2008. (Photo: Aubrey Immelman)


Related stories

Bomb blast slays 38 near shrine (Jan. 4, 2009)

Three Baghdad blasts kill at least 20 (Nov. 24, 2008)

Three female suicide bombers kill 32, wound 100 (July 28, 2008)

Iraqi mujahidaat becoming norm (Aug. 12, 2008)

Woman suicide bomber kills 26 in Iraq (Aug. 14, 2008)


Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security incidents in Iraq on Feb. 3, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

BAQUBA – Six people were wounded by two roadside bomb attacks in different parts of Baquba, capital of Diyala province, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – Four people were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded targeting a U.S. military patrol in eastern Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

KIRKUK – A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol wounded two civilians in a town near the city of Kirkuk, 155 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

Minnesota U.S. Senate Recount Trial — Live Coverage

Coleman-Franken recount trial: Link to news updates from the Star Tribune and live streaming video or on-demand viewing from The UpTake.

4 Responses to “Change Course in Afghanistan”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Female Suicide Strike in Iraq Says:

    […] Link to previous reports on the Mujahidaat (scroll down) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Economy Threatens U.S. Security Says:

    […] Link to previous reports on the Mujahidaat (scroll down) […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » U.S. Special Forces Killed in Pak Says:

    […] Change Course in Afghanistan […]

  4. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Iraq-Afghanistan Casualties Says:

    […] Change Course in Afghanistan […]

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