US commander General Stanley McChrystal - Afghanistan strategy is failing

The campaign in Afghanistan is failing and the strategies in place must be revised, the commander of US and Nato forces said today.

General Stanley McChrystal described the situation in the country as "serious", but said success could be achieved there with a new approach.

Gen McChrystal today delivered the results of his 60-day strategic assessment to US and Nato commanders in a long-awaited review of strategy ordered by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

He said: "The situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort." Gen McChrystal made his comments as it emerged that two more British soldiers had been killed in Helmand. The men from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland were killed while on a foot patrol north of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, the Ministry of Defence said.

Gen McChrystal has been working on the review since President Obama put him in charge of the war on June 15. His review, sent to the US military’s Central Command (CentCom), responsible for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to NATO headquarters in Brussels, is not expected to make firm recommendations about future troop levels. That recommendation is due out in another report later in the year.

However, military officials say it will form the basis for a decision about force size which could be taken within weeks.

The report, delayed so as not to affect Afghanistan’s August 20 presidential elections, comes with the country still stuck in political limbo, with the outcome of those elections still unclear.

Incomplete results so far show President Hamid Karzai leading, but not by enough to avoid a second-round run-off against his main challenger, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, who accuses the authorities of widespread fraud.

Gen McChrystal now commands 103,000 troops in Afghanistan, including 63,000 Americans and 9,00 British soldiers. More than half of the US force arrived this year as part of an escalation strategy begun under outgoing President George W. Bush.

The existing force is due to rise to 110,000, including 68,000 Americans, by the end of this year.

Since taking command, Gen McChrystal has adjusted the focus of Western forces from hunting down insurgents to trying to protect the Afghan population, borrowing in part from US tactics in Iraq developed under CentCom commander General David Petraeus.

His review is expected to suggest concentrating forces in more heavily populated areas and also stepping up efforts to train Afghan soldiers and police.


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