Afghanistan Policy To Focus More on Economic Development
by Charles Lemos, Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 08:36:40 PM EDT
National Security Adviser James Jones has told US military commanders there are no plans to send more troops to Afghanistan for now and that the focus instead will be on economic development and reconstruction according to story by Bob Woodward in the Washington Post.
National security adviser James L. Jones told U.S. military commanders here last week that the Obama administration wants to hold troop levels here flat for now, and focus instead on carrying out the previously approved strategy of increased economic development, improved governance and participation by the Afghan military and civilians in the conflict.
The message seems designed to cap expectations that more troops might be coming, though the administration has not ruled out additional deployments in the future. Jones was carrying out directions from President Obama, who said recently, "My strong view is that we are not going to succeed simply by piling on more and more troops."
"This will not be won by the military alone," Jones said in an interview during his trip. "We tried that for six years." He also said: "The piece of the strategy that has to work in the next year is economic development. If that is not done right, there are not enough troops in the world to succeed."
In February the President ordered an extra 17,000 troops deployed to fight a growing Taliban-led insurgency in southern and western Afghanistan. These are expected to be fully in place by the middle of July. Another 4,000 troops are expected to arrive in August to assist in the training of the Afghan army and police force. The forces are part of a build-up aimed at expanding the US military presence in Afghanistan to 68,000 troops by the end of this year, more than double the 32,000 at the end of 2008.
Furthermore, General Stanley A. McChrystal has undertaken a 60-day review designed to address all the issues in the war.
The increased focus on economic development is a welcomed development. This war cannot be won by military means alone.