Top US commander Gen. David McKiernan says the mission in Afghanistan is likely to fail if militants continue to gain power in Pakistan.
During his 40-minute briefing, the commander of the US forces in Afghanistan said, "Can you get to the right end-state in Afghanistan if you have a deteriorating or failed state in Pakistan? The answer is probably no."
The remarks came as US Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, visited troops in Kabul to see "what they need to prevent militants from crossing into Afghanistan from Pakistan."
McKiernan predicted that the US would need at least 2 to 3 more years to finish its mission in Afghanistan, adding that it is the length of time that Kabul would need to train nearly 134,000 forces to ensure the country's security.
More than 60,000 US troops will be stationed in Afghanistan by the fall, when the nation is to hold elections.
Given that Top US commanders don't talk about losing wars without their superiors knowing they are going to do it (or they are not Top US commanders any more), that means we are being sent the first of what will be numerous smoke signals.
1) We are being set up for a direct military presence in Pakistan (probably an assistance or training command, which will be necessary either (a) to avoid defeat in Afghanistan, or (b) to secure Islamabad's nukes.
2) This will necessitate and increase from 60,000 to 70,000 troops in the region, which--along with the slow-down of the Iraq withdrawal--will result in the unfortunate necessity that increasing operational expenses will lead to continued increases in the Defense budget despite reforms in weapons purchases.
I'd love to be wrong.