Lawrence Korb and Katrina vanden Heuvel Debate Pakistani Instability
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For too long, U.S. and NATO efforts in Afghanistan have been under-resourced and poorly coordinated. As a result, the United States’ early gains in the country have been reversed, and the Taliban and al-Qaeda have grown stronger and more lethal. Violence in the country has reached levels not seen since the initial invasion in 2001. In 2003, U.S. troops experienced fewer than 50 casualties; last year, that number had risen to 150. Attacks on U.S. and coalition forces have also grown more sophisticated, even in areas of the country where the Taliban is not thought to be strong. And while the military has had some success in eliminating high-level members of the insurgency, al-Qaeda continues to operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, posing a serious threat to U.S. national security.
President Obama’s decision to send 17,000 additional combat troops and 4,000 additional trainers for the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, is a necessary first step to reversing the deteriorating security situation in the country. But while necessary, the troop increase proposed by President Obama is not sufficient to achieve sustainable security in Afghanistan.
The administration’s decision to increase the amount of civilian experts and diplomatic resources, and the adoption of a regional approach is also necessary to correct American policy in Afghanistan. In addition to increasing security in Afghanistan, new troop deployments will enable these other elements of US national power to be put to more effective use.