President Barack Obama is sending more troops to Afghanistan. From the AP:
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has signed off on an increase in U.S. forces for the flagging war in Afghanistan, defense and congressional officials said Tuesday.
The Obama administration is expected to announce by Wednesday that it will send one additional Army brigade and an unknown number of U.S. Marines to Afghanistan in coming months. One source says the total is about 17,000 troops.
Spencer Ackerman at the Washington Independent has the press release directly from the White House:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 17, 2009
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON AFGHANISTAN
There is no more solemn duty as President than the decision to deploy our armed forces into harm’s way. I do it today mindful that the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention and swift action. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe-haven along the Pakistani border.
To meet urgent security needs, I approved a request from Secretary Gates to deploy a Marine Expeditionary Brigade later this spring and an Army Stryker Brigade and the enabling forces necessary to support them later this summer. This increase has been requested by General McKiernan and supported by Secretary Gates, the Joint Chiefs and the Commander of Central Command. General McKiernan’s request for these troops is months old, and the fact that we are going to responsibly drawdown our forces in Iraq allows us the flexibility to increase our presence in Afghanistan.
This reinforcement will contribute to the security of the Afghan people and to stability in Afghanistan. I recognize the extraordinary strain that this deployment places on our troops and military families. I honor their service, and will give them the support they need.
This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires. That is why I ordered a review of our policy upon taking office, so we have a comprehensive strategy and the necessary resources to meet clear and achievable objectives in Afghanistan and the region. This troop increase does not pre-determine the outcome of that strategic review. Instead, it will further enable our team to put together a comprehensive strategy that will employ all elements of our national power to fulfill achievable goals in Afghanistan. As we develop our new strategic goals, we will do so in concert with our friends and allies as together we seek the resources necessary to succeed.
We responded at VoteVets.org by issuing the following statement:
STATEMENT FROM AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ VETERANS ON NEWLY ANNOUNCED TROOP INCREASE IN AFGHANISTAN
Washington - The nation's largest progressive group of veterans today reacted to news from the Pentagon that an additional 12,000 U.S. troops or more will be heading to Afghanistan instead of Iraq.
Brandon Friedman, who served in Afghanistan as well as Iraq, and is Vice Chairman of VoteVets.org released the following statement:
"Coupled with the earlier appointment of Ambassador Holbrooke as special envoy to the region, today’s announcement that we will be bolstering our forces in Afghanistan, through re-missioning, is most welcome. For those of us who served in Afghanistan, especially, it’s been extremely disappointing to see the situation deteriorate there, with previous gains lost. Our forces are much more needed in Afghanistan right now, than in Iraq.
"The President and his team clearly understand that regaining the upper hand in Afghanistan will mean not just a military boost, but a strengthening of our diplomatic and political efforts there. That’s an intelligent and proven approach to counter-insurgency, which will finally allow us to take the fight to al Qaeda where it is strongest, and make America and the world safer."
I should add: While violent, the Taliban movement is one built around illiteracy and poverty. Thus, the way to crush it in the long run is through education and infrastructure. That’s why this problem necessitates a multi-faceted approach--not simply a military solution.
Bolstering troop levels is only the first step toward ensuring that Afghanistan can achieve enough stability so that it no longer represents an international security threat.