The Washington Post’s David Ignatius reports from Afghanistan:
I asked Lt Gen. David Rodriquez, the No. 2 US commander here, in a briefing tonight how long the deployment of the extra 30,000 would take. He answered that “it will happen between nine and eleven months,” starting in January 2010. Which means that some troops might not arrive until November 2010.
The next month after that, December 2010, is when Obama plans to assess how well the troops are doing — so he can decide how many to pull out when the withdrawal begins in July 2011. That doesn’t give him much time to make good decisions.
Am I the only person who worries that “fuzzy math” is being used here?
No he’s not. Heritage scholars Lisa Curtis and James Phillips wrote after President Obama’s Afghanistan speech:
President Obama’s West Point speech announcing his long-awaited decision on Afghanistan sent mixed messages that raise more questions about his Administration’s commitment to success than they answered. On the one hand, the President announced that he will dispatch 30,000 more U.S. troops within the next six months to reinforce the 68,000 already there and ask American allies, who currently have about 37,000 troops in theater, to bolster their commitment. On the other hand, this surge falls at least 10,000 troops short of General Stanley McChrystal’s “medium risk” option, and 30,000 troops short of his “low risk” option.
Moreover, Obama indicated that U.S. troops will begin to withdraw in 18 months–an unrealistically brief timeframe in which to accomplish their mission. The announcement of a withdrawal date also provides a psychological advantage to the Taliban who will convince their recruits that America has lost its will and thus they can just “wait us out.” Instead of acting as a decisive commander-in-chief firmly committed to success, President Obama came across as an uncertain political leader eager to split the differences within his divided Administration to implement an exit strategy, despite the likely disastrous consequences of such a plan.