One of the most compelling myths propogated by members of the military and their Conservative allies is the need to send a specific number of troops to Afghanistan. General McChrystal has asked for anywhere from 80,000 to 40,000 troops in order to do something which has never been specified. Like lap dogs of political fortune, Republicans and Tea Party ranters, continue insisting President Obama is not supporting our troops in Afghanistan. The figure of 80,000 undoubtedly resulted from extensive thinking, but it could just as readily been 77,000 or 84,000. Or, it could have been 200,000 if one really wants to honestly confront issues in the struggle against the Taliban. There is no magic number that will “do the job,” because, at best, we are dealing with generalities that have no basis in hard data. The issue is not numbers, the issue is how does one develop stability in Afghanistan that will reduce casualties to “affordable levels?”
A number of suggestions have emerged from discussions concerning Afghanistan:
Reduce civilian casualties.
Reduce the use of air power which is a major source of civilian casualties.
Enhance the role of local militias and police forces.
Concentrate American forces in fewer regions.
End corruption and incompetence in the Afghanistan government.
Unless the above are accomplished, whether there are 80,000 or 55,000 will be of no importance. Our focus should be on dealing with problems, not with a magic number.