May 5th, 2010
09:41 AM ET

House panel examines Obama strategy, troop strength

Washington (CNN) - The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday took stock of the Obama administration's new counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, and examined whether more troops could be deployed if conditions warrant.

The Obama administration has added about 30,000 troops in Afghanistan since December, bringing to about 100,000 the U.S. force there. Some 40,000 NATO troops also are deployed in the conflict.

Lt. Gen. John Paxton, director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked whether Gen. Stanley McCrystal, who is heading up operations in Afghanistan, has so far requested additional troops.

"We've made some adjustments in terms of combat forces on the ground, so we've made some modest adjustments in the number," Paxton said.

Michele Flourney, under secretary of defense for policy, added that part of the president's decision to add the 30,000 troops was to give Defense Secretary Robert Gates "a degree of flexibility" for him to authorize "further troops in support of force protection."

The surge in troop strength is one of several elements in the administration's counterinsurgency strategy, which also seeks to combat the opium trade in the region and give farmers a profitable crop they can raise and support their families with.

Flourney also stressed that the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan is also aiding the global war on terrorism.

"The border region [between Afghanistan and Pakistan] has been the sort of focus of al Qaeda for many years," Flourney said. "So I think denying them sanctuary and denying them safe haven there has a powerful impact on the global impact."

But in addition to the troop surge, Flourney said a good working relationship with the Afghan government is key.

"I think that in any situation, the military strategy takes you so far and at some point there is a political set of outcomes that are reached. We saw this in Iraq. We're working with the Afghan government to try to get a better understanding of the process that they will ultimately lead."

The goal of the Obama plan is to begin withdrawing U.S. troops in July 2011 in an effort to force Afghan officials to take the lead on ensuring their country's security.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said his forces will take the security lead in five years, despite doubts among military analysts that the Afghan army and police will be able to provide a sufficient number of trained forces in that period.

Allied and Afghan troops recently retook the southern city of Marjah from the Taliban and have been expected to move on the Kandahar region in June.

Those plans have been met with apprehension by Afghan leaders, including Karzai.

Karzai has told tribal leaders in the Kandahar region, the Taliban's traditional stronghold, that he would hold back the NATO offensive until he had their backing. His insistence on that support has frustrated the White House.

Karzai told a gathering of tribal leaders in early April that the U.S.-led alliance would not move against Taliban fighters in Kandahar "until you say we can." White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters a day later that Karzai's remarks were "genuinely troubling."

- CNN's Ed Hornick contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Kandahar • Karzai • Troops
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Bledsoe

    Here's that Col.Breazile touting all that "progress" that we made in Afghanistan since 2001.It just goes on and on,but does he ever talk about the human misery and the suffering the people do?Of course not!The right-wing thugs in Washington only want us to hear about the "good" we're purportedly doing over there,so I guess we're going to keep on hearing more of this right-wing bla-bla-bla!

    May 6, 2010 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      Ease up on the "right-wing bla-bla-bla!" Anabel...

      June 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sometalk

    Post# 3 of Abdulmuneer: You just presented a piece of nonsense. Its all anti Quran lies! An invention by some bigot to create religous hatred. Lying about someone's religon or holybook is nothing but racial /religous hatred and bigotry! You are trying to mislead and misguide the public, just like the puppet masters who incite hatred and promote violence through lies. Be careful what you say and talk. Don't make it your mission to misguide and promote hatred. Peace and Each to his own.
    God bless all !

    May 5, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Onesmallvoice

    Heres Col.Breazile again,speaking up for those right-wing thugs in Washington and our "need" for more troops in Afghanistan.And knowing what those thugs think up there on Capitol Hill,we'll doubtlessly get them.Isn't this what happened in Vietnam???

    May 5, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Col Gregory Breazile, USMC

    We are working hard at the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan to help them build their Army and Police forces. Our mission is the Strategic Main Effort for the security forces in country. I am positive we are going to meet our mission goals and continue to change the dynamics on the ground here in Afghanistan.
    Thanks to all who support our mission!

    Semper Fi,

    May 5, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth Brent

      Thank you VERY much for your service! Its very easy ,for the other posters to this site, to throw stones from the comfort of their Living Rooms. Our soldiers are carrying 100 lbs of gear in terriable conditions. Bless you and your men. Be safe!

      May 29, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Iraq Paramedic

    Abdulameer, yes you are correct in that those are writings in the modern Q'uran but, the book witch those writings came out of has been changed 4 times by 4 caliphs since Mohammad's death. The original Q'uran was not nearly that violent based. Before Mohammad married his wife, who was 15-20 yrs older than him, his grandfather & uncle where the apostles of GOD & the respected leaders of the people & they taught peace & tolerance. The Jews, Arabs, Christians & Gentiles use to live & work side by side with the Muslim people. Only GOD truely knows why things are like they are nowadays.
    May GOD Bless & keep us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. A muslim

    abdul ameer your interpretation from the quran is so retarded and copied and pasted from antiislam websites. I have read the quran many times and never interpreted it like you did. Its like me finding verses in the bible about forgiveness and saying the Pope hesitated in punishing perverted priests due to Christian teachings of forgiveness.
    Please keep your limited knowledge and hatred of Islam to yourself, no need to spew hatred on this blog which is for educational purposes.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. Abdulameer

    There will never be "progress" in Afghanistan because there is no way to suppress the forces of Islam which dominate the country's hearts and minds. Even "our" Afghanistan is officially "The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan". This means that the purpose of the government is to promote Islam, based on the Koran, the sayings of Muhammad and Sharia law. The only difference between the Afghan government and the Taliban is the degree of sharia law they want to become the law of the land. We have no business strengthening a sharia Islamic state of any kind because such a state is part of our Islamic enemy.

    Here is a sampling of the doctrines of Islam which motivate the hearts and minds of all religious Moslems, including those in Afghanistan, both Taliban and non-Taliban:


    –“ the (only) religion (acceptable) before God is Islam." (3:19)
    - " If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him." (3: 85)
    - “You are the noblest community ever raised up for mankind.” (3:110)
    - The unbelievers among the people of the book and the pagans shall burn forever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all creatures. (98.6).
    - Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve. (8.55)
    –The unbelievers are your inveterate enemy. (4:101)
    - Mohammed is God's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another. (48:29).
    - It is unlawful for a believer to kill another believer, accidents excepted. (4:92)
    - Believers, take neither the Jews nor the Christians for your friends. (5:51)
    - Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme. (8:40)
    - Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God's religion reigns supreme. (2:193)
    - The true believers fight for the cause of God, but the infidels fight for the devil. (4:76)
    - We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. (3:151)
    - I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers. (8:12)

    - Muhammad said to the Jews: "If you embrace Islam, you will be safe. You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I want to expel you from this land. “
    - Allah's Apostle said, "You (i.e. Muslims) will fight with the Jews till some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will (betray them) saying, 'O 'Abdullah (i.e. slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him.' "
    - Mohammed said, "I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and whoever says, " None has the right to be worshipped but Allah , his life and property will be saved by me." (otherwise it will not).
    - Mohammed said, "Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him."
    - Mohammed said, " No Muslim should be killed for killing a Kafir" (infidel).
    - Muhammad said: "Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, …"

    In addition, the most popular manual of Islamic sacred law, approved by the highest Islamic religious authorities of Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, says: "Jihad means to make war on non-Muslims." What could be clearer than that?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. Alamanach

    USAID has been doing nation-building work in Afghanistan since shortly after the invasion. If that work had paid off like it was supposed to, the tribal leaders would be falling all over themselves to let NATO come in and sweep away the Taliban once and for all. (The Taliban are not loved.) This latest move by Karzai is "genuinely troubling" only because we don't have the tribal leaders firmly on our side.

    And why do you suppose that is? It is because of USAID's nation-building focus. Nation-building is great if you're in, say, Tanzania. But in Afghanistan there is a war to win, and we will win only by getting the people– such as the tribal leaders– on our side. We do this not with long-term, sustainable, good-for-the-economy type stuff, but rather with an emphasis on counterinsurgency. Build the roads and schools and hospitals and so on, but do it out of a cunning desire to screw over the Taliban, not to aid Afghanistan's long-term growth. The time for long-term growth will come later.

    For example, these roads USAID is building are designed to international (AASHTO) standards. I have seen first hand cases in which we need to knock down some Afghan's house in order to make our roadway the 'proper' width. Given that the Afghan didn't ask for a new road in the first place, this is stupid– especially when we approach some local government head for eminent-domain rights to demolish the house. How many people does such an action win over, and how many new insurgents does it produce? It's no wonder the war is dragging on so long.

    Abandon nonsense like AASHTO standards; abandon anything that won't help win the war. Take what the Afghan politicians say with a grain of salt, and focus on what the ordinary Afghans say their needs are. Don't worry that they might mis-identify what they think they need. The point is to prove to them that we are capable and helpful and responsive, and to get them confident in us. Once we have that, isolating the Taliban from the population will be easy.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. Iraq Paramedic

    GOD created the good & the evil, he even tells us that some will not enter into heaven but shall flee to the pit & let no man stay him.
    When you partner with idiot, turn coat, two faced, drug dealers like Kharzi the ordinary people will never trust you. Obama has done a couple of good things but, if he continues with this Kharzi bafune the Afghan people will never have a stable country.
    May GOD bless & keep us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |