General David McKiernan, the top military commander in Afghanistan, insists that he needs more troops and aid “as quickly as possible.” This seems unlikely in the near term, however, as President Bush has already accepted a Pentagon recommendation that keeps troop levels in Iraq unchanged and not shift any troops to Afghanistan until after the new year. Both major party Presidential candidates have expressed support for a “surge” of troops into Afghanistan.
International forces have been in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion. However, Hamid Karzai has warned that the credibility of the operations have been seriously undermined by the rising number of civilian casualties.
Meanwhile, incoming CENTCOM commander General David Petraeus has echoed last week’s comments by UN Special Envoy Kai Eide about the situation in Afghanistan. Gen. Petraeus says the seven-year-long war is trending “in the wrong direction,” and he expects that in both Afghanistan and Pakistan “the going may be tougher before it gets easier.”
Violence in Afghanistan is up considerably over 2007 levels. US Officials have attributed this rise to three warlords, veterans of the CIA-backed war against the Soviet Union. The three are all believed to be based in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and are accused of directing attacks in southern Afghanistan.
The administration is also expected to make a new National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan available to policymakers soon. The report, described as “grim” by those privy to an early draft, will reportedly remain classified at least until after the election.