Petraeus Recommends Major Troop Surge in Afghanistan

Gen. McKiernan's Request Would "Almost Double" US Troops in Afghanistan

CENTCOM Commander General David Petraeus says he has already made recommendations for a major troop surge in Afghanistan, modeled after the 2007 surge he oversaw in Iraq. The recommendations were based on requests from top commander General David McKiernan, who in an interview earlier this week said he has requested “more than 20,000 soldiers” added to those currently in Afghanistan.

Gen. Petraeus and many other US officials have credited the Iraq surge for the decline in violence in that nation. This claim continues in spite of reports which have shown that sectarian cleansing of neighborhoods, not the surge, was responsible for the drop in violence. The hope is that the surge in Afghanistan will accomplish the same in that nation, or at the very least that it will be able to take similar credit for a drop in violence that may spring from another source.

The troops are already apparently spoken for. Earlier this week it was reported that they would be deployed in the provinces south of Kabul, where Taliban forces have consolidated control and are setting up competing government agencies. It is now being reported that an additional 5,000 will be dispatched to Helmand to help the British military with its floundering operations there. Another 5,000 will head to Kandahar, and others will be dispatched to Oruzgan and Zabul provinces.

There seems to be no shortage of potential destinations for the surge troops, but with the Taliban having a permanent presence in 72 percent of Afghanistan it seems hard to imagine how the additional forces, deployed exclusively along he nation’s southern border, can possibly pacify a growing insurgency.

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.