Despite Massive Escalation, Marines Still ‘Spread Thin’ in Afghanistan

Can There Ever Be 'Enough' Troops in Afghanistan?

Having in early 2009 been among the first forces out of Iraq for the dramatic escalation of the war in Afghanistan, the US Marines have found themselves on the front lines across Afghanistan, and a major part of the overall occupation force.

But despite major increases in troop number several times since then, the number of small outposts and new offensives are leading many to complain that they are “spread thin” and actually undermanned.

For much of the war, the US had somewhere in the realm of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan. Now they have around 100,000, with another 35,000 or so NATO troops there. Each increase in troops has come with an increase in violence, and predictably calls for yet more troops.

But can there ever really be “enough” troops? The “minimum troop density” figures cited in one recent piece pointed to 720,000 troops as a better figure. But with the situation growing worse by the day, it seems that even if the war-weary American public could be coaxed into putting up with such a massive deployment, there is little reason to believe it would accomplish anything. It seems that in the end “enough” is never enough.

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.