General Sees Consensus on Shifting Marines to Afghanistan

Marine Corps Commandant General James Conway, long an advocate of shifting Marines from Iraq to Afghanistan, told the Associated Press today that he sees a growing consensus of agreement on his position.

In the interview, he says Marine units scheduled to be sent to Iraq next spring are already receiving some training for Afghanistan during their preparations and that in discussions with Robert Gates he believes the Defense Secretary “would not object to the idea of a fairly strategic shift of focus of Marines from Iraq to Afghanistan.” Differing somewhat from his previous comments, Gen. Conway now says he believes all of the 22,000 Marines in Anbar province should be sent to Afghanistan, as opposed to leaving behind training teams.

President-elect Barack Obama has called for a shift of focus from Iraq to Afghanistan. Exactly how much of a shift and how fast it will be carried out is unclear, however. In September, President Bush accepted a Pentagon recommendation to delay the shift of a trivial amount of troops to Afghanistan in early 2009.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.