Though the United States has not set any firm dates for adding troops to Afghanistan beyond January, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says he would like to see “significant” additional forces added to the troubled nation before its next national election, scheduled for autumn of 2009.
Beyond its own planned additional deployment, the Pentagon is pressuring other allies to contribute additional forces to its surge, particularly Britain. Though the British Ministry of Defence has repeatedly insisted that its present 8,100 man Afghan force is all it intends to deploy, the Pentagon hopes to cajole the British into shifting the 4,000 troops being withdrawn from Iraq into Afghanistan.
Though Secretary Gates sought to downplay the grave situation in Afghanistan, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen has stated that he expects the situation to worsen beyond its current levels next year, already the worst since the start of the seven year long war.
The worsening situation does not auger well for Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s hopes of reelection next year, as rising violence and charges of government corruption have already prompted a significant portion of the electorate to turn on him.