Editor's note: Michael O'Hanlon, senior fellow at the 21st Century Defense Initiative at Brookings, penned an opinion piece for CNN on the Pentagon's newly released strategy paper. Below he focuses on Afghanistan.
The Afghanistan mission is an important place to begin the discussion. This year and next, the United States will deploy up to 100,000 troops in that country for much if not most of the year. Not only does that translate into $100 billion a year in added defense costs, above and beyond those of simply maintaining the military, but it also requires a standing ground force of a given size in order to handle such burdens over time.
As Hassina Sherjan and I argue in a new book, "Toughing It Out in Afghanistan," we should know a lot later this year and certainly by 2011 about whether our basic strategy is working there, but it may not be until 2012 or 2013 when U.S. force levels return back to 50,000 or fewer. Not only that, but the United States still has 100,000 troops in Iraq and will perhaps still have 40,000 there at the end of 2010.
Read more on O'Hanion's take on the Pentagon's defense strategy