As the White House and the Pentagon shift attention from Iraq to Afghanistan, our civilian and military leaders must grapple with the realities of trying to establish security and stability in a land that has never known much of either. The situation there is looking increasingly grim. In a Westmoreland-like moment, the general commanding U.S. forces in Afghanistan is about to ask for additional forces even before the current surge of over 20,000 new troops is completed. Also, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction has concluded that the U.S. reconstruction effort in that country is not going well and tens of billions of dollars of U.S. aid are at risk.
The current Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is centered on the idea that the majority of future threats to U.S. security will be similar to the current situation in Afghanistan. The military (and other government agencies, if they are able) will have to simultaneously fight violent extremists, build partnership capacity and stabilize/ reconstruct failed societies. To accomplish these missions, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is masterminding radical changes to our armed forces. Yet, the lessons emerging from Afghanistan, and according to today’s New York Times from Iraq, is that most of the QDR’s goals may be unachievable — thereby undermining the review’s value and the rationale for Gates’ initiatives.
Find Archived Articles: