While Secretary of Defense Robert Gates promised yesterday that the upcoming report from General Stanley McChrystal on Afghanistan would make no specific requests for additional troops, that doesn’t necessarily mean the new commander won’t be aiming for an increased escalation.
A report in the Washington Times cites multiple Obama Administration officials as saying that Gen. McChrystal may ask for the planned 21,000 troop escalation to include fewer support forces and more combat troops. They also say that the delay was a result of McChrystal being ordered to consider requirements for support units.
Secretary Gates has cautioned that it would be premature to speculate on exactly what the general will ask for, but it seems the move could involve a “12 percent rollover” from support troops to combat troops.
Though this plan would apparently mean more combat troops and presumably more combat, it remains to be seen what consequences the reduction of support personnel will mean. It may also be a back door to asking for more troops at a later date, if the cuts in support lead to stories that the troops are undersupported.