KABUL (Reuters) - The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Army General Stanley McChrystal, says in a confidential assessment of the war that without additional forces and a new strategy, the mission “will likely result in failure.
The assessment is contained in a 66-page document, an unclassified version of which was obtained by The Washington Post and published on its website on Monday. McChrystal’s spokesman in Kabul confirmed it was genuine.
Below are some of the main points included in the assessment.
* McChrystal says despite some progress being made, many indicators point to a general deterioration in the overall state of the country. If the government were to fall to the Taliban, he says, Afghanistan could again become a base for terrorism.
“We face not only a resilient and growing insurgency; there is also a crisis of confidence among Afghans -- in both their government and the international community -- that undermines our credibility and emboldens the insurgents.”
* McChrystal says he needs a “jump” in resources, both civilian and military to defeat the insurgency. While not outlining any specific numbers, he says Afghanistan has been historically under-resourced and remains so today. He says he will submit a review of resources at a later date.
Resources will not win the war, McChrystal says, but “under-resourcing” could lose it.
* Apart from more resources, McChrystal says what is also needed is a new strategy that is credible and sustainable for ordinary Afghans. Instead of concentrating on “seizing terrain” and “destroying” insurgents, the objective must be gaining the support of the population.
A perception that international forces have an “uncertain resolve,” he says makes Afghans reluctant to align with the foreign forces against the Taliban.
“Additional resources are required, but focusing on force or resource requirements misses the point entirely. The key take away from this assessment is the urgent need for a significant change to our strategy and the way that we think and operate,” he says.
* McChrystal says foreign forces need to think differently about the impact of time on their efforts in Afghanistan. Instead of seeing it in terms of annual “fighting seasons” international forces should be focused on a year-round campaign aimed at winning the support of the people, by protecting them from insurgent coercion and intimidation.
McChrystal says forces in Afghanistan faced both a long-term fight, which would require patience and commitment, and a short-term fight, where failure to gain the initiative would mean it would be no longer possible to defeat the insurgency.
* McChrystal says the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are not large enough to fight the Taliban and that demonstrable progress by the government and the ANSF over the next 12 to 18 months is critical to maintain the support of the international community.
He says the size of the Afghan army needed to increase from a planned strength of 134,000 to an estimated 240,000. There are currently around 92,000 soldiers in the army.
The Afghan police force, which lags years behind the army, needs to grow from 84,000 police to 160,000, he says.
* Detention operations in Afghanistan, although critical to counter-insurgency operations, have the potential to become a “strategic liability” for international forces, says McChrystal.
He says Afghans see U.S. detention operations as secretive and lacking in due process. All detention centers, he says, including the prison at Bagram Air Base, are to be eventually handed over to the Afghan authorities when they have the capacity to run them.
Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Nick Macfie
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