Strategy THEN Decision, What A Concept
I am encouraged by the fact that President Obama is reluctant to put the cart before the horse in Afghanistan. Right now there is an ongoing strategy review that will likely determine the new policy. But commanders on the ground want an infusion of troops immediately. They may end up getting a brigade or two before the strategy is complete, but there's no way we should continue with the theory that troops are a universal good absent giving them something tangible to do. There's a school of thought that we are papering over a lack of troops in Afghanistan with airstrikes that rile civilian populations, but in Iraq airstrikes went way up after the surge and were used as cover for ground movements. So there is no value in troops without the strategy, and I'm glad the President is thinking hard about that.
Meanwhile, maybe the best near-term option would be to secure our own weapons:
Tens of thousands of assault rifles and other firearms in Afghanistan are at risk of being stolen because U.S. officials have lost track of them, according to a congressionally ordered audit that warns that some weapons may already be in Taliban hands.
The audit by the Government Accountability Office found that inventory controls were lacking for more than a third of the 242,000 light weapons donated to Afghan forces by the United States -- a stockpile that includes thousands of AK-47 assault rifles as well as mortars, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
There were no reliable records showing what ultimately happened to an additional 135,000 weapons donated by other NATO countries, the report said. Many of the weapons, supplied between 2004 and 2008, were left in the care of Afghan-run military depots with a history of desertion, theft and sub-par security systems that sometimes consist of a wooden door and a padlock, the report said.
Ah, the Pentagon. Such a model of efficiency. By the way, losing bunches of weapons is a nasty habit for St. Petraeus.