| October 1, 2009 at 01:39 am
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The White House is now contending with competing strategies in the case of Afghanistan. The Pentagon has made the argument for more troops (upwards of 40, 000) to implement what Gen. McChrystal has proposed as a “protect the population” strategy. This has been a major shift in policy from the previous eight years, which had been one of targeting insurgents and concentrating our forces on their elimination. One of the challenges of such a shift is the number of troops needed in order to implement the strategy. The White House is acutely aware of the political ramifications of such a troop increase and continues to delay in making a final decision. The other strategy, which has been gaining traction, championed by VP Joe Biden and strongly supported by US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), favors a return to the “hunt and kill” method of operation with an emphasis on Pakistan as the center of gravity of the insurgency. This particular strategy requires far less troops than that advocated by McChrystal and according to its supporters gets the US out of the business of securing the entire country by a blanket force. The troubling feature of this strategy is that it has been tried for eight years and we still have an unstable environment and now with a growing insurgency. The President spoke to Gen. McChrystal yesterday for the first time since they met in June in the Oval Office. It is hoped that all options were examined before a course of action was selected if one was selected at all. The time is growing near when a decision must be made as to which path we will take with Afghanistan.