Will the Administration Resist Calls for More Troops?

The Obama administration may be preparing to resist calls for more troops in Afghanistan.  Senior military leaders have suggested that more soldiers and Marines are needed to prevent defeat at the hands of the Taliban.  Gen. Stanely McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, recently requested 40,000 additional troops to augment counterinsurgency efforts, and the administration is debating whether to agree to the proposal.

Many Republicans, led by Sen. John McCain, are also calling for more troops.

But some civilian leaders are wary of the idea, including Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. President Obama reportedly shares some of their concerns.

Recent comments by senior officials suggest that the administration might be preparing to deny Gen. McChrystal’s request. 

Yesterday, retired Gen. James Jones, the president’s national security adviser, said that he disagreed with Gen. McChrystal’s assessment that Afghanistan is in “imminent danger” of falling to the Taliban.  He also said that Gen. McChrystal’s views are merely “his opinion” of “what he thinks his role within that [Afghanistan] strategy is.”

Gen. Jones and other senior administration officials have recently claimed that the threat posed by Al Qaeda has severely diminished because of better intelligence capabilities and airstrikes by remotely-operated drones.  Such claims might be used to justify a decision not to send more troops.

If Secretary Gates and Gen. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly express doubt that deploying more soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan is a good idea, it will be a strong indicator that President Obama has rejected Gen. McChrystal’s proposal.

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