BLOG: American Troop Levels in Afghanistan: More, Less, or Just Right

By Brad Gerstman

The focus of many Americans is on whether President Obama will add the 40,000 additional American troops requested by the U.S. Military Commanders on the ground or will he resist the pressure to extend the war.

Some argue that “the surge” in Iraq is positive proof that a dramatic increase in troops can turn this war quickly. However, the American people need more information about the current status of the war before we can formulate an educated opinion as to what the right direction will be for our troops and our Country.

In Iraq, the strategy went beyond adding troops. It included forging various alliances with different warring factions, joining forces with Iraqi security troops and spending money to create more alliances on the ground. It was because of this strategy and the increasing of our troop commitment that led to the turnaround in the war.

Something to note is that Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, is roughly the size of Texas and has such unforgivable terrain that many divisions of Soviet forces have been devoured by it. The American public should be educated on the strategy and ultimate goal for Afghanistan in order to better understand a decision by President Obama to send or not to send more troops. It is my opinion, that this critical information should be shared with us, the American people, before we should jump to any conclusions on how many troops to commit, if any at all. Let us remember that 40,000 troops is a drop in the bucket considering the size of Afghanistan.

Brad Gerstman is a partner at Gotham Government Relations

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