Pentagon delays Afghan troop request: Report

 
Army General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander of the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, warned in a confidential assessment leaked to the media on Monday that without additional troops the mission “will likely result in failure”.

A senior Pentagon official said the administration had asked for the reprieve so it can complete a review of the US-led war effort, the Journal reported.
“We have to make sure we have the right strategy before looking at additional troop requests,” the official told the newspaper. “Things have changed on the ground fairly considerably.”

There are already more than 100,000 foreign soldiers in Afghanistan battling an insurgency that has taken control of parts of the south and east of the country. The leaking of McChrystal’s military report, which Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he backs, piles more pressure on US President Barack Obama, already squeezed by ebbing public support and scepticism in his own party over troop levels.

Obama has said in interviews over the past week he would consider deploying more troops after a proper US strategy for Afghanistan has been determined.
McChrystal’s troop request, which some officials anticipate would include roughly 30,000 new combat troops and trainers, is expected to be submitted to Washington in the coming weeks. Asked about the Journal report, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the hope was that the matter would be resolved soon.

“As Secretary (Robert) Gates said last week, he and others are still working through the process by which General McChrystal will submit his resource request for review,” Morrell said.

Karzai’s support

McChrystal’s assessment comes at a critical time for Afghanistan, when the war is at its deadliest since it started in 2001 and as Afghans await delayed presidential election results.

In an interview with news channel CNN, Karzai supported McChrystal’s assessment and said the commander’s call for more troops was “the right approach ... and we back it”.
“We welcome what McChrystal has indicated, that protecting Afghan civilians forms the centre piece of military strategy,” Aleem Siddique, a spokesman for the UN in Kabul, said. “That  is a welcome move.”

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