US Escalation to Focus on Controlling Afghan Population Centers

"Compromise" Proposal Largely Follows McChrystal's Existing Formula

According to officials, President Obama’s top advisers are now eyeing a strategy whereby they would concentrate all additional troops sent under the planned escalation on controlling the 10 largest population centers in Afghanistan, as well as the Helmand River Valley.

Gen. McChrystalThe strategy is being presented as a compromise, though it seems to be so only in the sense that it acknowledges that the US doesn’t have enough additional troops to try to fight militants on all fronts across the entire country.

But rather the move seems to be Gen. McChrystal’s long-standing strategy, with only his most grandiose troop requests pared off. Even the decision of the places to focus the troops is based on where McChrystal said he would put the troops if available.

It does seem to point to at least the base level of troop escalation however. It seems four combat brigades, roughly 16,000 additional troops, looks to be the absolute minimum being considered, though likely more will need to be sent to capture the Helmand River Valley. Gen. McChrystal is seeking 80,000 more troops and says 40,000 is the absolute minimum he needs.

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.