Afghanistan: Surge Also Needed?


Let's not forget the other war (or the other front in the same war, or the important front being unjustly ignored, or whatever you want to call it) in Afghanistan. New Defense Secretary Gates was there this week, and

said he was "strongly inclined" to recommend a troop increase to President Bush if commanders believe it is needed.

……The prospect of a troop increase in Afghanistan, at the same time Bush is ordering 21,500 more troops into Iraq, raises new questions about the military's ability to sustain its war-fighting on two major fronts. There now are about 24,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, which Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the senior American commander here, said is the highest since the war began in October 2001.

Eikenberry already told Gates he wants extended tours of duty for 1,200 soldiers in Afghanistan. And what sort of situation are these soldiers facing, more than five years after the invasion?

Suicide attacks in 2006 totaled 139, up from 27 in 2005, and the number of attacks with roadside bombs more than doubled, from 783 in 2005 to 1,677 last year. The number of what the military calls "direct attacks," meaning attacks by insurgents using small arms, grenades and other weapons, surged from 1,558 in 2005 to 4,542 last year.