Small Wars Journal

New Administration to Realign Priorities

New Administration to Realign Priorities in Iraq, Afghanistan - Yochi Dreazen, Wall Street Journal

The election of Barack Obama will trigger a significant realignment of US national-security priorities, with Afghanistan and Pakistan gaining in prominence as resources are redirected from Iraq.

US policy in the two regions has been shaped by the Bush administration's decision to commit the bulk of the nation's military and financial resources to Iraq, where the ouster of Saddam Hussein set off a prolonged civil war, rather than to Afghanistan. The focus on Iraq left the Afghanistan mission chronically short of troops and money.

The incoming Obama administration sees the challenges differently. Aides said Mr. Obama is likely to deploy tens of thousands of additional US troops to Afghanistan, where security conditions have worsened markedly in recent months and attacks by the Taliban and others have risen. They said Mr. Obama also would devote more attention to neighboring Pakistan, whose support is seen as crucial to defeating the Taliban and al Qaeda and stabilizing Afghanistan.

With security conditions in Iraq continuing to improve, the Pentagon announced Wednesday that a combat brigade of about 4,000 troops from the 101st Airborne Division would leave Iraq six weeks sooner than planned. Several more brigades are expected to leave by next summer.

Those moves free up more troops for use in Afghanistan.

More at The Wall Street Journal.


zosimos (not verified)

Sat, 11/08/2008 - 11:12am

My name is MAJ W and I am an ILE student at Ft. Belvoir. The following is my personal opinion and in no way reflect policy of the US Army.
Although I agree with the concept that activity in Afghanistan has been increasing, I would emphatically caution on rapidly shifting large formations of troops from Iraq to the Afghan theater. We have seen measured success in Iraq, but a rapid withdrawal may give respite to the AQ elements that still clearly exist in Iraq. There is still much work that needs to be done in Iraq, especially with the Iraqi Police, and the potential for a return of lawlessness is profound if the US is not present to provide the guidance and mentoring that is critical.
Another point I would like to caution about is the belief that large formations in Afghanistan is the answer to this conflict. Although the Russian occupation can in no way be likened to our current situation, some lessons can be gleaned from them. With large formations comes numerous and inviting targets, something the Taliban relished as they fought the Soviets. I would hate to see a return of this situation. I feel that by bolstering our Special Forces elements in Afghanistan, especially in Civil Affairs, we might better succeed in showing the Afghani's that aiding the Taliban and AQ is not in their best interest.