Monday, October 19, 2015

AFGHANISTAN - Decision, U.S. Troops Stay

"What influenced Obama’s decision to keep troops in Afghanistan" PBS NewsHour 10/15/2015


SUMMARY:  The longest-running war in American history will go on even longer than expected.  Hari Sreenivasan speaks to the Washington Post’s Greg Jaffe about what prompted President Obama to change course and decide to leave troops in Afghanistan.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  We get more on today’s announcement from Washington Post reporter Greg Jaffe.

Greg, how did he get to this decision?

GREG JAFFE, The Washington Post:  You know, in the spring, they started a review to decide what they were going to do.  The plan had been to go to essentially a Kabul-based force, a small force.

And I think most in the administration, especially the president’s inner circle, seemed to think that that’s where they were going to land.  The discussions carried on through the summer.  In August, General Dempsey came forward, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — he just recently stepped down — with a plan for a sustaining force of about 5,000 focused on counterterrorism.

And it was then, it seemed to me, that the debate changed, and the President seemed open to that.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  So what were the tensions here?  Is this partly the political pressure of making a campaign promise to get the country out of this war, and then the military reality on the ground, where all his top advisers are saying something different?

GREG JAFFE:  You know, I don’t think politics played a big role in it.  I think the President has a real skepticism about military forces’ ability to effect solutions in places like Afghanistan, so he’s a really hard sell on these sorts of issues, just because he doesn’t think military force fixes the problems, that they’re really political problems.  No military solutions has sort of become a mantra.

So, it took a lot of convincing to bring him around, I think.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  So, if you have insight to this, what was the menu card of options that the generals presented him, here’s A, here’s B, here’s C?  What were his choices?

GREG JAFFE:  You know, I think that the main choices, as I understand them, were there was an option to essentially stay at 9,800, where they are, indefinitely.

The real choice and the real focus of the debate in terms of a sustaining presence beyond 2016 into 2017 was really this 5,500 option.  That was the one that sucked most of the oxygen in the room.  That was the one that they really focused on.

No comments: