The Afghan troop buffet Obama is dithering over
Should President Obama decide to send 40,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan, the most ambitious plan under consideration at the White House, the military would have enormous flexibility to deploy as many as 15,000 troops to the Taliban center of gravity in the south, 5,000 to the critical eastern border with Pakistan and 10,000 as trainers for the Afghan security forces.There is more detail on the options. Historically, we know that the small foot print strategies lead to a longer and bloodier war. Putting the additional troops in place in adequate numbers creates a situation where enemy movement to contact and retreat from contact becomes ever more difficult. If you do not have an adequate force to space ratio you are forced to play whack-a-mole with the enemy or cede real estate that makes it easier for the enemy to operate from sanctuaries.
The rest could be deployed flexibly across the country, including to the NATO headquarters in Kabul, the capital, and in clandestine operations.
If Mr. Obama limited any additional American troops to 10,000 to 15,000, the military would deploy them largely as trainers, with some reinforcements likely in the southern province of Kandahar, the Taliban’s spiritual home. The neighboring, and opium-rich, Helmand Province and the eastern border with Pakistan, military analysts say, would receive few if any American troops and would remain largely as they are today.
The best option is clearly to send the largest force that you can support. It will make for a shorter war with less bloodshed.