Thee may be no substitute for troops on the ground (Max Boot, There's No Substitute for Troops on the Ground, New York Times, October 22, 2009), but do we and NATO have enough troops? He points to the town of Nawa where 1000 marines have carried out a clear and hold policy. About 400 Afghan troops assist them.
However there are 780 cities, towns and villages in Afghanistan. Do we have 780,000 troops to send east to hold and clear all those cities, towns and villages? I think not.
Could we be more optimistic and argue that when half the cities, towns, and villages were secure and flourishing, then a tipping point would be reached and that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda would acknowledge defeat? That would take some 390,000 troops, a far cry from what is proposed; but those are the kinds of numbers that counter-insurgency experts think necessary.
We need to be sure that we can win, before we commit more troops.
Sent to the New York Times