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Afghanistan - leaked US military report

Top US commander says more troops or risk failure

Article published on the 2009-09-21 Latest update 2009-09-21 09:12 TU

US General Stanley McChrystal(Photo: US Military)

US General Stanley McChrystal
(Photo: US Military)

General Stanley McChrystal, the top Nato commander, commented in the American press on Monday that more US troops are needed for the war in Afghanistan, otherwise it could “result in failure”. Meanwhile a taskforce of New Zealand special forces has arrived in the country.

In a classified document obtained by the Washington Post, General Stanley McChrystal wrote that, “failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term […] risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.”

The report was presented to US Defence Secretary Robert Gates at the end of August and details what McChrystal calls “inadequate resources”.

He says that failure to reverse the situation in the next 12 months will be decisive. And that Isaf (the International Security Assistance Force), makes “the problem harder” with “intrinsic disadvantages”.

The two main worries in Afghanistan are insurgency and the crisis in confidence, according to McChrystal. There could be a “longer conflict, greater casualties, higher overall costs, and ultimately a critical loss of political support,” if more resources were not provided.

McChrystal is expected to formally request an increase in US forces in the country, although US President Barack Obama said on Sunday that he is, “going to test whatever resources we have against our strategy.”

He did not rule out doing “what’s required to keep the American people safe,” but said it must be demonstrated to “a sceptical audience – namely me”.

On Monday the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced that a new taskforce of special New Zealand troops arrived in the country for an 18-month deployment.

Key said that, “the alternative is that we are left with a country where control is ceded to the Taliban”.

It is not clear where the 71 Special Air Service troops would be stationed.

This year has been the deadliest year for international forces in Afghanistan, with 350 dead.

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