October 29, 2009

Evidence that we don’t need more troops

By: AFF Editors

David Adams commanded a US advisory team in the Afghan province of Khost. Ann Marlowe reported from Afghanistan. They write,

From the beginning of 2007 to March 2008, the 82nd Airborne Division’s strategy in Khost proved that 250 paratroopers could secure a province of a million people in the Pashtun belt. The key to success in Khost—which shares a 184 kilometer-long border with Pakistan’s lawless Federally Administered Tribal Areas—was working within the Afghan system. By partnering with closely supervised Afghan National Security Forces and a competent governor and subgovernors, U.S. forces were able to win the support of Khost’s 13 tribes.

Today, 2,400 U.S. soldiers are stationed in Khost. But the province is more dangerous.

A lot more dangerous, actually. Is our initial success in Khost an indication that a small number of troops doing the right things is all we really need? I don’t know enough about the province to have an opinion one way or the other.

Now that the province is in trouble, can it be brought back under control with only a small contingent of troops? I don’t know.

Was our initial success in Khost something of an illusion, similar to the relative peace throughout Afghanistan during the first years after 9/11? Again, I don’t know.

Although skeptical, I’m more open to arguments like Adams and Marlowe’s because it’s based on evidence from the battlefield, not spurious analogies between the Taliban and our Founding Fathers.