Pentagon’s ‘Mixed Messages’ on Afghanistan

Top Military Brass Endorse Escalation, Gates 'Undecided'

Though General Stanley McChrystal has come out aggressively in favor of a dramatic escalation of the war in Afghanistan and is seeking up to 45,000 more US troops to fight the eight-year long war, the messages coming out of the Pentagon so far suggest a rift on the policy, or at least something short of complete endorsement.

CENTCOM commander General David Petraeus endorsed the plan, and insisted that Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Michael Mullen did as well. This would put the military leadership squarely on the side of escalation.

But Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell says that Secretary Gates’ “thinking is still evolving” and that he hasn’t come to a final determination.

This appears to be part of the Obama Administration’s desire to delay their decision on the escalation (which most expect will be approval) until a more politically opportune moment. Morell says Gates will withhold submitting the recommendation to Obama until he is ‘ready’ to make a decision. This may provide an opportunity for equivocation from both Gates and Obama, as each can insist their decision is pending a decision from the other.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.