A 'Surge' for Afghanistan

Gordon Lubold in today's Christian Science Monitor - A 'Surge' for Afghanistan.

The top general of the Marine Corps is pushing hard to deploy marines to Afghanistan as he looks to draw down his forces in Iraq, but his proposal, which is under discussion at the Pentagon this week, faces deep resistance from other military leaders.

Commandant Gen. James Conway's plan, if approved, would deploy a large contingent of Marines to Afghanistan, perhaps as early as next year. The reinforcements would be used to fight the Taliban, which US officials concede is now defending its territory more effectively against allied and Afghan forces.

Within the Pentagon, General Conway's proposal has led to speculation about which, if any, American forces would be best suited to provide reinforcements for a mission that, most agree, has far more political appeal than the one in Iraq. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has already recommended against the proposal, at least for now, a military official said Tuesday...

Conway says that Marines, who have been largely responsible for calming Anbar Province in Iraq, can either return home or "stay plugged into the fight" by essentially redeploying to Afghanistan...

Rick Rogers, San Diego Union-Tribune, on USMC current operations in Anbar, Iraq and implications for the Afghanistan mission - Marines' Duties go Well Beyond Combat.

... some Marine commanders and defense specialists question whether the Corps' expeditionary combat strengths are being wasted in Anbar.

The Marines are revered for their offensive capabilities, said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer at the Lexington Institute think tank in Arlington, Va.

"At some point, we are going to have to ask why are we sending a quick-strike force to do nation building. It really would make more sense to send them to Afghanistan to chase insurgents than to have them helping locals in Anbar province build schools," Thompson said.

"If the mission becomes more reconstruction, then it is more of an Army job," he added.

The proposal for handing Marines the lead combat role in Afghanistan has been espoused by senior commanders such as Lt. Gen. [General] James Mattis, Helland's immediate predecessor at Camp Pendleton...

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