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Posted: December 6, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Troop surge has fatal flaws

On the evening of Dec. 1, President Barack Obama addressed the nation on his plan for troop increases in Afghanistan. He spoke from the hallowed and historic halls of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Obama has decided to send 30,000 troops to the war zone, some to leave almost immediately. Beginning in the summer of 2011, our troops will begin the pullout and return home.

I am a very strong advocate of victory in Iraq and Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has proven it will come to our shores and kill Americans if we do not take the war to them. Only by fighting them overseas can we can finally and completely defeat them to ensure our safety. Our goals seem to have been accomplished in Iraq, but I fear the president's plan will not accomplish our goals in Afghanistan for the following reasons.

It has taken Obama three months to answer Gen. Stanley McCrystal's request for additional troops. Delay and vacillation are deadly in wartime. Taking three months to decide what to do and taking various trips around the world including 10 days in Asia while trying to decide are seen as signs of abject weakness by our enemies and are met with deep concern by our friends.

General McCrystal asked for 40,000 troops for a reason. One of the key principles of war is "mass," which means the more troops you have and the greater you outnumber your enemy, the better your chances of victory. McCrystal and his fellow senior officers are our experts on the ground in the war zone. If they believe we need a certain number of troops, that's what we need, not 75 percent of what they ask for.

The fatal flaw, and likely the aspect of his plan to be most exploited by the enemy, is his announced withdrawal of American and allied troops from Afghanistan beginning in the summer of 2011.

Telling the enemy we are coming for you but leaving in 18 months means they can lie low, take shots at our guys, bide their time and reemerge once we are gone. They live there; they aren't going anywhere. Publicly giving a withdrawal date also makes it virtually impossible for the central government to establish control. Who is going to support them when the clock is ticking and everyone believes the Taliban will regain control within two years?

In his speech, the president used the personal pronoun "I" more than 40 times. Never once did he use the word "victory." He did not define a goal or benchmark to show progress during the surge. His plan to send more troops for a set period of time will only get more Americans killed with little or no purpose being met. If he is not committed to victory and preventing more attacks here at home by destroying Al Qaeda overseas, we should leave immediately and prepare to fight them here on our own soil again.

Finally, Obama will meet stiff resistance from the hard core left wing of his own Democratic Party. Most of us were astounded to hear one of his most loyal media allies call our own United States Military Academy, the "enemy camp." Chris Matthews has since apologized but only after a general uproar followed his comments. His words accurately reflect, I believe, what leftists around the country really think of our military. They will work hard to derail Obama's plan for a temporary increase in our troops' strength. They only supported the Afghan war effort when George Bush was concentrating on Iraq. Now that the spotlight is falling on Afghanistan, their support has evaporated as if it was only a desert mirage.

State Sen. John Douglas (R-Social Circle) represents the 17th state Senate district. He is a retired Army Officer and chairs the Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee of the Georgia Senate. He can be reached at (404) 656-0503, or john.douglas@senate.ga.gov or through his Web site, www.senatorjohndouglas.com.

 


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