With the outlook in Afghanistan already looking worse every day, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen told reporters this morning that the situation in Afghanistan will likely get even worse next year. He said the situation will not improve until the US and its coalition partners embrace a new strategy that links the Afghan conflict with the situation in neighboring Pakistan.
It was also reported today that the White House has launched an urgent policy review for Afghanistan, expected to be completed in the next several weeks. The violence in Afghanistan has soared this year to the highest levels since the war began in 2001. Admiral Mullen told the House Armed Services Committee last month that he was not convinced the US is winning the war, and said that time was running out to change directions.
The escalating violence and ensuing pessimism is not restricted to US officials either. French Army Chief General Jean-Louis Georgelin said today that he shares the sentiment expressed by British Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith that military victory in Afghanistan was “neither feasible nor supportable.”
General David McKiernan has called for an increase in the troop levels in the nation “as quickly as possible.” But the United States has struggled to increase its own forces with 146,000 troops still stuck in Iraq, and has instead pressed its NATO allies to contribute more troops to the effort.
Besides increasing its attacks in Pakistan, the US strategy for Afghanistan thus far seems to center around using the military to crack down on the heroin trade which is a considerable portion of the nation’s economy. But many NATO nations have balked at the move, fearing it will lead to an even greater backlash against international forces operating in the war-torn country.