U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Newman near Zabul, Afghanistan (Photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Mancini, army.mil, available at flickr)

September 21, 2009

A Comprehensive Strategy for Afghanistan: Afghanistan Force Requirements

"President Obama identified a number of questions that must be answered before he can make a considered decision about whether or not to increase troop levels in Afghanistan.  The assessment of General Stanley McChrystal, which appeared in the Washington Post on Monday, answers those questions.  The assessment does not provide an estimate of the forces actually required, which were to be submitted in a later document.

The American people need to have a detailed explanation as soon as possible of what forces are needed, how they might be used, and why there is no alternative to pursuing the counter-insurgency strategy that General McChrystal proposes if we are to achieve the fundamental objectives President Obama announced in his March 27 speech, '…to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.'

To inform the national discussion, therefore, we have produced a report that argues for an addition of 40,000-45,000 US troops in 2010 to the 68,000 American forces that will be there by the end of this year.    The report illustrates where US, NATO, and Afghan forces are now and where additional forces are needed to accomplish the mission.  It links the US force requirements to the growth of the Afghan National Security Forces on an accelerated timeline.  It explains the methodology for assessing the adequacy of a proposed force-level.  This product, and our recommendations and assessments, are entirely our own—they do not necessarily reflect the views of General McChrystal or anyone else."

- Frederick W. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan