For the past year people like Senator John McCain have been repeating the mantra that a surge is needed in Afghanistan to replicate the “success” of Iraq. Of course, suicide bombers continue blowing themselves up and the situation is far from a “success” but it is so easy to urge just repeating in Afghanistan what happened in Iraq. Admiral Eric Olson, who commands the US Special Operational Command, warned Congress the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan was not a pleasant one although he was encouraged by priorities established by President Obama. “Al-Qaida’s surviving leaders have proven adept at hiding, communicating and inspiring” he told Congress. They operate in remote areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan which makes for difficulty to dealing with insurgents who readily disappear into mountains.
Olson is arguing the first necessity is securing urban areas and the roads leading into them so that supplies and support can readily reach the population. He believes Afghan forces have to take the initiative while US soldiers provide support services to them. The unanswered question is whether Afghan troops will actively become engaged in fighting.