After 15 months in office President Obama has increased the number of troops in Afghanistan by an almost impossible amount, going from 30,000 (itself the product of an end-of-term escalation by President Bush) to 86,000… with the troop level pushing 100,000 by the end of the summer.
But in what is rapidly becoming the ultimate example of a mission that grows to exceed whatever resources it is given, the Pentagon’s latest report on Afghanistan is warning that they still don’t have enough troops to cover even half of the “key districts” in the nation, let alone the rest of the country.
The report was released yesterday, with an emphasis on the grim assessment of just how unpopular President Hamid Karzai is in those “key” districts. The report also noted that the Taliban continue to grow and claimed, speciously considering the data in the report, that the rising violence had “leveled off.”
Yet the Obama Administration clearly can’t do anything to make Karzai a more palatable president, and nine years suggest the US has no idea how to keep the Taliban from growing. In the end it may therefore be the troop shortages that shape the policy, as if the administration is willing to do one thing it is throw more troops at the conflict.
Though Pentagon officials expressed hope that the remainder of the current US escalation, coupled with the foreign escalations, would cover the “key” districts, there seems to be no wiggle room in the US strategy, and little to stop other districts from suddenly taking on greater importance.