February 3rd, 2010
10:41 AM ET

Pentagon's war strategy

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

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Filed under: Pentagon • Troops • Voices • Your View
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. joey

    anybody with a weapon is fair game. shoot before shot at. Rules of engagement suck.

    April 6, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chris samler

    If you haven't seen "Rethink Afghanistan" you may want to. My county in Ca. has spent an estimated $2 billion on Iraq and Afghanistan. Like Ron Paul says, "we need to come to our senses!"

    March 17, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joe Reid

    What is the basic strategy? We went in there 9 years ago with 11,000 troops because terrorists set up shop there and attacked us on 9/11. I thought that's what it was all about. Here we are 9 years later and it's "MISSION NOT ACCOMPLISHED".

    Number 1: Nation building did not work in Vietnam and it's certainly not going to work here; and it makes you wonder if our leadership (Military and Civilian) have learned anything from history at all. I don't think any of them have.How can you put a government in place and leave it's security in the hands of a "trained army" 80% of which can't read?

    Number 2: This is for General McCrystal; there is no such thing as a nice war Sir, terrible things happen in war; and yes; innocent people die. Thats the price we ALL pay, and the responsibility ALL accept when defending our country from the attacks of 9/11. The attacks that these people allowed to be planned in thier country. Your Rules of Engagement are not only stupid Sir, but they're a betrayal to all of our Soldiers and Marines serving on the ground there now. Today when I heard that the use of HIMARS were suspended because of 12 civillian deaths I wanted to be sick. What about our Soldiers and Marines safety General? Doesn't that matter? What happened to "Support our Troops"? Well the way I see it unrestricted Rules of Engagement and the use of superior fire power happens to be some very important and useful support. I really wonder how many Americans really understand how restricted are troops are when it comes to defending themselves.

    Number 3: You don't tell the enemy you're coming, you just attack and don't worry about attitudes or what you destroy; worry about getting as many of OUR kids as you can out alive.

    My son went into Marjah on Saturday with the 1st Battalion 6th Marines, if he gets into a bad combat situation he'll have to get himself out of it. There won't be any help coming his way from this leadership.

    Joseph Reid
    Syracuse NY

    February 14, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. same old same old

    Sure looks like its ging "well",its madness,when you see it for what it is you will start on the road to wellness.

    February 13, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bertha Stevens

    What a bunch of trash all this reporting is! Coalition troops??? Please let us know just what countries are in the so-called coalition. You talk about our defense, but WE are the aggressors! They are not here attacking us, wanting our land and resources. WE are
    THERE. I believe your "reporters" just take the sheets of propaganca from the Pentagon and present it as news, never checking the veracity of a thing. You are as bad as Fox.

    February 13, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. paul huylebroeck

    OPIUM TRUST/AFGHAN TRUST. YOU WILL NEVER GET THEM TO GROW CARROTS WHILE THEY CAN MAKE SO MUCH MONEY WITH OPIUM. IT WOULD BE CHEAPER FOR US TO BUY ALL THE OPIUM THEY CAN PRODUCE AND STOCKPILE IT AS WE DO OIL AND OTHER COMMODITIES. THIS WOULD MAKE THE PEOPLES HAPPY, GIVING THEM AN INCOME AND A WAY TO CONTINUE THEIR TRADITIONAL WAYS. WE COULD EASILY PAY MORE THAN THEY WOULD GET ON THE BLACK MARKET. THIS OPIUM COULD BE PUT TO GOOD USE IN MEDICINE AROUND THE WORLD. INSTEAD OF DEMONIZING IT, RESEARCH COULD ACTUALLY MAKE IT THE MIRACLE DRUG THAT IT IS. WHILE TRUE, IT IS A SCOURGE ON THE BLACK MARKET. IF PEOPLE WANT TO GET STONED THEY CAN JUST BUY PRESCRIPTION DRUGS IN FLORIDA. IT IS TIME TO RETHINK OUR PRIORITIES WITH THIS WAR AND THE NARCOTICS TRADE. DRUGGIES WILL ALWAYS FIND A WAY AS LONG AS PHARMACEUTICLES ARE AVAILABLE. WE SHOULD HAVE LEARNED BY NOW YOU WILL NEVER STOP THE FLOW OF DRUGS BY RESTRICTING THEM, I.E. COKE AND POT. THE SOLUTION IN THIS CASE IS TO BUY THEIR CROPS AND NEUTRALIZE THE TALIBAN'S EDGE

    February 13, 2010 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
  7. bernie

    THE OPERATION IN AFGANISTAN SHOULD HAVE BEEN A SECRET.BY ADVERTISING THE OPERATION MANY INSURGENTS HAVE LEFT JUST TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY.JUST REMEMBER ,LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS.

    February 13, 2010 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. mudassar ullah

    americans will crushed by talibans in latest operation "mustharak" im helmud
    talibans r only 2000
    nato soliders r 15000
    2000=15000
    2=15
    1=7.5
    mean one taliban mujahid is equla to 7.5 nato soliders
    an talibans r going to win INSHA ALLAH
    VERY SOON
    GOD WILL GIVE
    them WIN

    February 13, 2010 at 2:59 am | Report abuse |
  9. mark

    Dawn,,, its not like that ...Drone flights are recon do the leg work....not sure why they dont use The big bomb here and get it over with......

    February 13, 2010 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dawn

    What a shame that our troops are being betrayed by CNN! The only thing CNN is leaving out is the time of our assaults. The Taliban love CNN all they need is a lap top or cell phone. I cannot believe what I have seen it’s a disgrace to our armed services to watch there offence to be aired on live television. The element of surprise is gone. Google is becoming a tool for our enemies. Why is CNN giving the Taliban everything they need outside of guns & bombs to kill our men and women?

    February 12, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sayed

    Bring peace and stability to a country like Afghanistan is just a miracle. I am from Afghanistan and I know a lot about my country. The current troop increase will do nothing except increase the American casualties and there will certainly be a short term success but long term, the situation becomes the same. Americans are just following the footsepts of Russians, the road to success is making the fundamental institution in Afghanistan, Afghanization of Government of Afghanistan, most of the serving ministers are having two citizenship, US and Afghan or other western country's citizenship, people don't regard the government of karzai a legitimate government, espeically after election. Peace is possible with long term commitment at least 10 years and engaging with regional powers, Pakistan, Iran and India. If there had been military solution in Afghanistan, then Russians would not be defeated. Americans are fighting with unseen enemy, during day, they are friends and at night they are foes, look how many Americans so far have been killed by Afghan troops and police? There is luck of trust and team work between Americans and Afghan forces. how success can be possible?

    February 10, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ourhumandebate

    Many Americans have been mislead in that they now believe, following W. Bush's deception in Iraq, that Afghanistan/Iran/N.Korea are also hyped and bogus threats. We must educate our voters that Iraq was a war fought on bogus grounds, and a war yet to be payed for, but that there are real threats in the world that will require long-term attention. The Taliban must be eliminated; they currently are made up of local governments trying to regain political control by force. Should we ever allow the Taliban control over a region or country again, you can guarantee that we will see more of Al-Qaeda shortly thereafter. I support the Pentagon's decision to reinforce our forces in Afghanistan, it is the land of the roots for guaranteed terrorism should we not stand up to our military adversaries there.

    February 8, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. RT

    What do we really want to do?

    I might be missing the signs but they had been there since man learned to go to war.

    It looks like a child's play escalated to adults; the great difference is that a lot of blood is shed on the latter – for what: supremacy, power, firm grasp on the global market?

    My oh my!

    February 4, 2010 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. A. Smith, Oregon

    The Pentagon appears to be following its same old FAILED POLICY of training and arming the previous combatants thinking they'll support the corrupt government that America has forced upon them after they leave. Only to find out several years later, the corrupt leader is thrown out of office and the army they trained is now their sworn enemy, better equipped and better armed thanks to American taxpayers money and American weapons.

    February 4, 2010 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. Larry

    It looks like it is so far working.... With more Troops to help do the same thing... Hopefully We will be able to get out when Obama wants!!! We sure know that the way Bush ran Iraq didn't work!!! But Obama's way of doing it is making things look better there... If it is working there why not try it in Afghanistan??? That way We can get out of Both Country!!!

    February 3, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |