Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Skelton: Don't Compare Afghanistan to Iraq

"Measured Expectations"
House Armed Services Committee Chair Ike Skelton warned against comparing the president's decision to send more troops into Afghanistan to the infamous surge in Iraq.
"I do not think such comparisons are wise or fair," Skelton said as part of his opening statement before his committee Tuesday. "As a percentage of the forces on the ground, the increase ordered by President Obama is much larger than the increase in Iraq. And the fight in Afghanistan will be different in many important ways. Media articles citing General Petraeus yesterday suggested that he does not believe that progress in Afghanistan will not come as quickly as it did in Iraq. In the article, he suggested that we must be measured in our expectations. To me, this article highlights the need for commitment to accomplishing this mission, not just from the President, but from Congress and the American people. I hope that this hearing can help build that sense of support and commitment.
Skelton added that while he does not have any doubt about about the need to succeed in Afghanistan, he does have several questions about the strategy, including:
  • What do we believe must be accomplished in the next 18 months?
  • What risks are we accepting in the next 18 months and how can we mitigate them?
  • How will we convince the Pakistanis that their interests lie with us?
  • How will we measure progress over time?


During the hearing, Gen. Stanley McChrystal told the committee he believes the Taliban could be "rolled back." When asked directly by Skelton about the chances of success, McChrystal responded, "I believe we will absolutely be successful."

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