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Under the Influence: Fighting the Afghanistan Strategy

Friday, Aug. 7, 2009

If July represents the first results of the Afghanistan surge, the portrait is sobering. With 75 troops killed, it was the deadliest month for the coalition since the war began. The British, who have about 9,000 soldiers in the country, were hit particularly hard, with eight soldiers killed in less than 24 hours recently. The painful news sounded political echoes in London. The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee announced last week that "avoidable mistakes" have been part of a deficient strategy, leading to mission creep. It singled out the U.K.'s anti-poppy campaign, in particular, as a "poisoned chalice." All of this is without mentioning the assessment by the U.N. that civilian casualties are 24 percent higher this year than last.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., as casualties mount, the military is considering an escalation. Citing several members of an advisory team tasked by new ISAF commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal to reconsider strategy, the Washington Post reported last Friday that more troops may well be needed to root out corruption, counter the Taliban, and beef up the Afghan national army. ...

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