Saturday, July 11, 2009

How to secure Afghanistan: one soldier for every 122 people in the country

Actually it's worse than that.

According to WaPo:

The Afghan army is already scheduled to grow from 85,000 to 134,000, an expansion originally expected to take five years but now fast-tracked for completion by 2011. Several senior Pentagon officials indicated that an adequate size for the Afghan force may be twice the expanded number.

So that would be 268,000 soldiers (not counting police) for a country with a population of 32.7 million.

That's one soldier for every 122 people in the country.

But wait: by fall the US will have 68,000 troops on the ground, plus 8,000 Brits, 2,700 Canadians, and roughly another 4,000-odd NATO soldiers. So that's nearly 83,000 foreign troops, and WaPo also reports that General McChrystal may be gearing up to ask for more American forces early next year--trainers, you see.

Let's just deal with the number we know will be there in the fall, which--when added to the potential expansion of the Afghani Army--means that there could be 351,000 troops in Afghanistan by some point in 2011.

That's one soldier for every 93 Afghanis.

To give you an idea of just how massive an occupation force that would be, consider that to approach the same density of troops, you'd have to send 3.2 million troops to occupy the United States.

Ask yourself for a moment exactly what kind of a war we are fighting when the Pentagon and the commander on the ground are seriously proposing that it will take years, billions of dollars, and a troop concentration equal to 1.1% of the country's total population to achieve security.

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