Gates: US Ready to Escalate Quickly in Afghanistan

Admiral Mullen Had Cautioned Adding Troops Would Be Challenge

by Jason Ditz, November 20, 2009

As we have seen from the situation in Iraq, withdrawing American troops from a nation is a slow (almost glacial) and expensive process. Don’t worry however, as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates assures that the process of adding troops won’t be nearly so difficult, or at least not so slow.

I anticipate that as soon as the president makes his decision, we can probably begin flowing some forces pretty quickly after that,” Gates announced today. The comments came in spite of warnings from Admiral Michael Mullen that Afghanistan’s lack of roads and infrastructure made the escalation a challenge.

General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan, requested an escalation of forces in August, eventually laying out a series of options that has him requesting up to 80,000 additional troops for the war. President Obama has yet to announce which option he will select, but it is generally believed that he will approve an escalation in the realm of 30,000 additional troops.

Though it is unclear when Obama’s decision will come, officials have suggested in the past that the escalation could begin in January. Gates’ comment seems to indicate it won’t be a tentative beginning.

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