February 17th, 2009
06:04 PM ET

Details of new U.S. plans in Afghanistan

Reporter's Note: Tune in to hear more on this story from Peter Bergen tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Barbara Starr | BIO
Pentagon Correspondent

A few points from a US military official with specific direct knowledge of the Afghanistan deployment and what the US military is planning there.

1. the increased troop levels expected to last at minimum three to four years.

2. Obama authorized 17K, 12K will get orders soon, another 5K of support troops will get their orders at a later date.

3. The additional troops will ALL go to Afghanistan’s southern border region with Pakistan. The aim is primarily (but not solely) to begin to stop the flow of foreign fighters across that border.

4. The US troops will be dual purpose: combat and also training afghan army units. But at least another 2,000 US troops needed specifically for the training mission.

5. The concept of operations by the US military: build a new string of forward operating bases (main base areas) and combat outposts (smaller posts in towns and villages like you saw in Iraq)…troops will move around…engaging in both counter terrorism (fighting foreign fighters essentially) and counter insurgency (fighting basic taliban and insurgents inside the country….including the so-called ‘day hires’ that join the Taliban just for money.

6: goal: to have enough troops to ‘seize and hold’ territory…and maintain basic security in an ever broadening area –there simply haven’t been enough troops to hold ground.

7. Taliban continue (as we have said since nov) to maintain at least half a dozen safe haven areas inside Afghanistan. these are prime target areas for US.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Barbara Starr
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. J.V.Hodgson

    It's a start and the Petraeus and Gates influence is obvious. That may not be Capital Hill influence (bi partisanship thereon) but is certainly an indication of the current CIC's ability to listen and act accordingly even though these guys were not appointed by Obama.
    Sounds to me like a previous Administration not listening and doing thier own thing, and never mind the people they appointed to advise and we'll get it through the house and senate or President Bush can veto if we do not like the result.
    Previosly the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and Intelligence interpretations and state department policy were 100% dictated by Bush Cheney and a collegiate of others.
    Whatever, its clear that has changed already under the Obama administration, it may not be totally bi partisan but is what the voters wanted... and that media is real ground level bi partisanship and politics!!

    February 18, 2009 at 4:25 am |

    I guess it's good to have an outlet for your thoughts on a particular subject, but who among us is willing to devote the time that is necessary to be informed on the issues; informed enough to make useful and /or insightful statements about important issues affecting our country? Without knowledge of the issues and the position taken by our elected officials on these issues, all that a person responding in a forum such as this one, can do is just "vent" ignorance. I am not willing to devote the time necessary to be enlightened to the point where I can put forth viable solutions to the issues facing our country. I choose to spend my time learning about a smorgasbord of subjects, which enables me to carry a casual conversation about certain subjects, such as politics, but, in my opinion, doesn't give me the insight to solve national problems.

    February 18, 2009 at 2:57 am |
  3. Skyrunner

    I strongly disagree with Obama administration about sending more US troops to fight Taliban- Al Qaeda

    February 18, 2009 at 2:06 am |
  4. william delaware

    do not forget–Afghanistan is about catching Bin Laden. We must catch him and bring him to justice.

    February 18, 2009 at 1:59 am |
  5. Allen

    The surge worked in Iraq and it will work in Afghanistan. The terrorists need to be smothered. I'd rather bump up the numbers now ( risk being re-called) and get it over with. Rather than stringing this out longer than it needs to be. It seems you forget the reason we are fighting in Afghanistan is to keep the terrorists on their toes , don't give them a chance to coordinate another catastrophic attack on or home land. These soldiers weren't drafted they signed up for this. Let them do their duty.

    February 18, 2009 at 1:48 am |
  6. Edwards Agwu Okolo

    President Obama's decison is precedented on ensuring global peace. Most americans whose comments i just read have forgotten that an american policy is a world policy. Obama can not gaurantee peace in america if some of this costly bold steps are not taken. Life is all about sacrifice. Pls support obama, he is on d right track

    February 18, 2009 at 1:41 am |
  7. lorraine

    i am glad get the job done and get our troops home

    February 18, 2009 at 1:31 am |
  8. Mel, OK

    It is truely astonishing how quickly people forget!
    First of all, President Obama said during the whole campain that we would pull out of Iraq and increase the number of troops in Afghanistan. Were you people not listening?
    Additional troops are badly needed in Afghanistan. That is where the legitimate war is.
    My husband is currently in Iraq and yes I wish we could bring all the troops home obviously, but I would have less of a problem with this deployment if it wasn't for a war we had no business starting.

    February 18, 2009 at 12:47 am |
  9. George

    Sending more troops is probably the only thing he can do. Unfortunately they perceive our President as weak. He will have expend more effort (troops and money) than if they thought he was a hawk. All those speeches during the primarys about "timetables for withdrawal" are coming home to roost. As a side note I would rather not be able to read specific's on military deployments & strategies where our enemies can also get them.

    February 18, 2009 at 12:28 am |
  10. Bogdan

    Ha-ha You Democrats thought he was going to reduce to troop levels? Idiots he doesn't want to take the blame for losing the war.

    February 17, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  11. jeff norman

    If you don't understand war and why men fight, than you are either a pacifist, a child, weak or an unrealistic dreamer. But, that's ok.

    Men fight for land, land is limited. Men fight to control the majority of the land on earth. Men need to tell you and I that they are either trying to protect our land here and abroad, or they are trying to keep someone else from expanding thier control of the land somewhere because thier a tyrant/ terriost/ communist or some other ist.....

    So as long as thier are men and land the President now and forever will always have to deploy troops and manage war.

    Wake up from the dream and smell the coffee. Thier were wars in heaven between the Angels. Pray that Obama and the next President after him don't get check mated by some other Man. You can pray for peace, but don't forget to pray for victory as well..

    God Bless the troops, and God bless the United States of America

    February 17, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  12. Vickie MO.

    Sending 17,000 more troops isn't in our best interest. Hope nothing breaks out here in the U.S.. We're screwed if it does, because we won't have enough men to fight our battle's. They'll all be raging war elsewhere!!

    February 17, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  13. Eric

    I support our troops 110%!!

    How does this help USA? Rather than focus US citizens time and money on another country in need, we should focus on our problems at home first.

    Obama is doing a poor job so far. I believe we should send everyone that voted this non-experienced person into the whitehouse to fight for him in Iraq. Bring the rest of our troops home!!

    February 17, 2009 at 10:19 pm |
  14. SLATE

    I believe "we should do everything we can" to bring U.S. soliders home. Over 4000 soliders have died. Maybe "bringing them home" should have been in the package deal!

    February 17, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  15. Phillip

    Obama never said that he was getting out of Afghanistan. He clearly stated in that he wanted to concentrate more on Afghanistan instead of Iraq.

    February 17, 2009 at 9:50 pm |
  16. shaasu

    This is a great plan. I am a member of the Army, so this is also valuable information. Troops are needed in Afghanistan at this time. President Obama is making a great decision.

    February 17, 2009 at 9:47 pm |
  17. David

    Oh come on now, - Obama said over and over again that we needed to reduce troops in Iraq which was a side-track - and we needed to go after Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and Pakistan - most likely increasing troops in Afghanistan– that is what he's doing - I guess Republican voters don't remember what Mr. Obama was saying during the election campaign as Palin kept them focused on "seeing Russian from Alaska"...

    February 17, 2009 at 9:37 pm |
  18. Darren

    Obama said all along he was in favor of more troops in Afghanistan. He never lied about that.....you people didn't listen and only heard what you wanted to hear. I don't want more troops sent there but it has to be done. We can't leave that country alone as Mike said. The Taliban are real. The radical Muslim groups are real. It's pretty much a holy war that's been a part of history since way back. I'm not a war monger by any means...it's just reality.
    My son is a Marine in Iraq right now. For whatever reason (surge or political dealings) Iraq is much more stable though that can always change.
    My wife and I are proud of him but scared out of our wits over what may come next. Please don't forget our military. God bless them and their families. They sacrifice a hell of a lot.

    February 17, 2009 at 9:28 pm |
  19. Joseph McKeever

    The war in Afghanistan is unwinnable, no matter how many troops we send. From Alexander the Great, to the British in the 19th century, to the mighty Soviet Army from '79 through '89, no foreign power (with the possible exception of Genghis Khan) has ever succeeded in imposing its will on the Afghan people. Have we learned nothing from history, including our own in Vietnam? Afghanistan is a tribal culture, with a long history of regional conflict and decentralized rulers and warlords, who will nonetheless rally with ferocious tenacity against a foreign invader, particularly an "infidel" such as the U.S. The Russians must be enjoying this. Are we so arrogant that we still think in terms of "conquer and hold", of imposing "democracy" and "lifting up" the Afghan people from ignorance? Are we so blind as to believe that we are really fighting "insurgents", when those fighters have a more credible claim than does the West to this land and its people? This is a vast region and a people who are – and have been – culturally different from the Western norm for centuries. We have no right, nor do we have the means, to impose our will on these people. The Taliban are not benevolent rulers, granted. But the U.S. has neither the might, power, money or political will to accomplish nation-building in this place, regardless of what we feel about the Taliban. Don't the Afghan people deserve peace after decades of fighting, fleeing and dying? Pres. Obama is buying into the "war on terror" ideology of the Bush Administration. It's extremely disappointing.

    February 17, 2009 at 9:26 pm |
  20. JD Smith

    The reality of the fact that the world isn’t really as nice as we think it is has come forefront for President Obama. Yes I more than most would love to pull all the troops out of both Iraq and Afghanistan. That would save lives wouldn’t it? Lets see for eight years under the Clinton administration we stayed our of anything that was unpleasant. The economy was great and the military was only used in country’s that had invited them. Yes there was the Taliban in Afghanistan but we didn’t care it was someone else’s problem. Then something went wrong and it became our problem. You remember I think it was 911. Surely that would never happen again. So yes pull out and let the Iraqi and Afghan people take care of their own affairs.
    In a perfect world that would all work. History and not so long ago history has taught us differently.
    The increase in troop levels will without a doubt increase something else. The number of casualties will increase as well. The small outpost will be attacked and just as in Iraq troops will be taken hostage tortured and killed.
    I do believe that we have no chose at this point but to finish what wasn’t started by the U.S. al Qaeda did using bases that were in Afghanistan. If we leave they will return and in the Land of the Two Rivers also. That’s the reality of what will happen if we don’t finish this.

    February 17, 2009 at 9:25 pm |
  21. Marguerite

    Wrong place...Wrong Time ... More U.S. and NATO casualties. Obama would not send them unless heavily advised to do so. Command in the Pentagon has not changed, i.e., same Bush appointment is there... Defense Secretary Robert Gates. We should really get out .. same call as Iraq. Please pray for Obama. He has a lot of decisions to make.

    February 17, 2009 at 9:21 pm |
  22. Randy

    Bush– War=Not O.K.
    Result for either-Americans Dying!!!!!
    Get Out NOW!!!!!!

    February 17, 2009 at 9:17 pm |
  23. Ahna Flores

    I support you Mr. President and I pray for your safety and that of your family, BUT war is not the answer. Maybe I am narrow minded but too many American lives have been lost on foreign soil. Please STOP the killing!

    February 17, 2009 at 9:17 pm |
  24. Mike

    Iraq is definitly a place we need to get out of and afghanistan is where the extra troops are really needed. The surge worked in iraq and will work in afghanistan. Smart move on the presidents part. I see alot of people saying we should leave afghanistan and let them figure it out on their on, well that just doesnt work. If we leave the ones who will take over are the ones who have the weapons. Do we really want a safe haven for terrorists all over the world? If we let them have this counrty it will be a staging area for attacks all over the world. And this one comment from Roger "Osama and everyone will be happy and we’ll have peace." That couldnt be further from the truth, there is no such thing as peace for that person he will use his new found freedom to plan more attacks because he will actually be able to come out of his cave.

    February 17, 2009 at 9:02 pm |
  25. haley

    Q: Who lost to the worst president in US History?

    john mccain

    February 17, 2009 at 8:47 pm |
  26. jim

    typical democrat say what you need to get the votes then does what he wants once elected whoever voted for this guy is just ignorant i guess you are not worshiping the ground he walks on anymore wait until his "stimulus" blows up and we are worse off you ignorant voters will do your research and listen next time sorry now go and cry

    February 17, 2009 at 8:36 pm |
  27. Don

    I haven't heard the word UNITED NATIONS mentioned in a long time. Are they out of the picture. What do they support????? Are UN troops part of this new deployment or is it all the US????? Who else is kicking in MONEY to defray the cost of this operation???? How meny troops have other countries sent in???? Maby, other countries, are not subject to attacks by all of these terrorest. Definition: Terror..how a small country fights a BIG country...... Terrorest...A group of people with a bomb and NO AIR FORCE.

    February 17, 2009 at 8:19 pm |
  28. Margaret

    Bring the Troops Home.

    February 17, 2009 at 8:19 pm |
  29. Alan

    Obama has just lost his re-election bid.

    February 17, 2009 at 8:16 pm |
  30. cameron

    Iam confused that obama said that he wanted the war to stop but now he is sending more men to fight . this just gets people to hate and not appreciate. In the future everyone will be fighting until everyone is dead.

    February 17, 2009 at 8:15 pm |
  31. Annie Kate

    My nephew is in the service and is deploying back to Iraq in a few weeks to assist with the pull out of troops there (that is what he tells us). After that he says the next stop is Afghanistan to finish what we started there before we got sidetracked. I hope there are clear objectives for the Afghanistan exercise so we know when we are done and can come home.

    February 17, 2009 at 8:06 pm |
  32. Geno Wardelli

    No, no, a thousand times no. Get out and get out now. One hundred billion dollars a year for ten years and then what do we have? A rag-tag army of numerous "stans" and a situation no different that we have now. Is anyone truly concerned about an Afghani attacking the US? (Please don't tell me the Taliban did 9/11). Where is all this election talk about getting out? How the rich play with peoples lives. This is really what I want: my son to die in Afghanistan.

    February 17, 2009 at 8:04 pm |
  33. Geo Gosling

    I'm confused. Obama said during his campaign that we needed to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home. Sounded good to me. Sounded good to a lot of people. Now he is sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan. That makes no sense to me. Am I confused? What's okay with having troops in Afghanistan, but not Iraq? Am I missing something? Am I totally ignorant? I don't get this...unless Obama was just saying whatever he needed to say to get votes. Once he got the votes, he jut figured he could do whatever he felt like doing because hey...he won. I don't care if one supports the war or not...but blatant, calculated, lying, that could cost thousands of lives should not be tolerated. Impeach Obama!

    February 17, 2009 at 7:47 pm |
  34. Roger

    God this is all SO rotten and stupid. NO WAY should we be fighting Al Qaeda, we should make peace with them by reforming our Mideastern policies, especially wirth regard to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Stop supporting Israel militarily; if Hamas and Hezbollah make life too difficult for the Israelis, let them come to America. Then get out of Iraq, out of the whole area, and Osama and everyone will be happy and we'll have peace.

    February 17, 2009 at 7:32 pm |
  35. lee

    President Karzi is a crook and everyone knows it. Before we send in our very best troops, why don't we get Karzi out of office first. Everyone knows he's involved with the drug trade and has made millions from it while our troops are spilling their blood on foreign soil. Why do we continue to keep these crooks in office? Get him out now! I'm afraid that President Obama is going to have a "Vietnam" on his hands. Those people need to fight for their own freedom and may the best man win. We can no longer be paying for someone else's freedom. We are a financially broke country. Pouring more money into Afganistan is throwing good money after bad. This is a big mistake, I hope that this Admistration knows what it's doing. Lee

    February 17, 2009 at 7:10 pm |
  36. Ed..Lombard, Il.

    I thought that with a change in Administration would come a change with regard to our presence in Afghanistan but I guessed wrong. We are apparently going to learn our lesson the hard way and obviously have not paid attention to history. Russia was bogged down there for a long time and they finally saw the light and bailed out with their tail between their legs. We are going to continue to sacrifice our troops for reasons that I fail to understand. That country has absolutely no value to us in my opinion. It's high time to stop playing the World Police and take care of this country. I see very few troops from our friends trying to root out the Taliban. Come on, Mr President, let's wake up and get out of there.

    February 17, 2009 at 7:04 pm |
  37. Luis

    Didn't he run on a Kumbaya message during the campaign?

    I want to know when the people are going to stop believing in the government

    Like Ronald Reagan said, "government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem."

    Good old great communicator. I miss him.

    February 17, 2009 at 6:56 pm |
  38. Mike in NYC

    See "Pakistani woman watches Taliban take over town she loves" on CNN's World page. More "humanitarian" excuses for the continued Afghan (now Afghan/Pakistani) war. Do we really need to save the rest of the world from itself? Then again, "Gul Bibi" says that "[p]robably your next 9/11 is going to be from Swat." Oh, my bad. Sally Soccer Mom and the kids are in deadly danger. Yet again. Gotta go in.

    February 17, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  39. andrew

    All in good time. I support this move and the only reason for this is because I thought that after September 11, Afghanistan was supposed to be the target and somehow we got mixed up with Iraq and blah blah the rest in history. He's going after Osama...

    February 17, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  40. Phoebe

    I don't understand how this is helping the United States or Afghanistan. I'm not saying it isn't helping but, HOW? Also, I listened to what Obama had to say and voted for him, now I don't get why he is sending troops, and for at least 3 to 4 years????

    February 17, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  41. Pat Foelsch

    Please pray for our service men and women. Pray that our President and Mr Gates are guided to do the right thing.
    God Bless America
    Aunt of a Marine Sniper who is now serving in Iraq.

    Pat Foelsch

    February 17, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  42. ray munholland

    very disappointing! i had had hopes that obama was deferring any troop actions until a complete reassessment of the mission and the exit point, as well as dependent upon a region-wide, cooperative effort. this region has, and will always be, a quagmire for foreign occupiers because these people are fiercely independent and tribal.

    February 17, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  43. Jim, San Mateo, CA

    My Mother picked out my tie this morning

    February 17, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  44. unknown

    finally we get troops where it is needed. that place is terrible over there and we need more troops to go over there. If we take troops out of the middle east then terrorist groups can stop protecting there homeland and start focusing on attacks to other countries which is bad. Thank you Obama

    February 17, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  45. John Nemesh

    Obama from the beginning told us that we needed to increase our commitment in Afghanistan. He said on numerous occasions that we needed to get out of Iraq, which he called a "needless distraction", and focus on the significant problems facing our troops in Afghanistan. Personally, I could care less about either war, I never bought into the propaganda saying that we could fight the terrorists there or on our own soil...but saying that "Obama lied" is outright false.

    February 17, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  46. Justin

    I'm glad they're increasing the troop numbers to the real "Central" front in this whole war. To Brandon, they are going to be shrinking the numbers in Iraq, it was just on the front page of CNN...

    February 17, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  47. Mike

    Informative...I'm hoping this works, quicker we succeed the quicker we get out kind of thing. I'm worried about the thinning state of troops present on our homeland godforbid something were to happen. Get of Iraq pleaseee

    I wish more articles were written in this bullet style format. It's much more easier to read when the key points are noted in this type of manner. Good Job

    February 17, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  48. Brandon

    So much for Obama being a different President. He tells us what we want to hear. I still have high hopes for him. However you cant say not even three months ago that "I will bring home our troops" and then turn around and say you are stepping up the troop numbers in afganistan. Youre not even shrinking the numbers in Iraq.

    February 17, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  49. chona

    good information, very precise news.

    February 17, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  50. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    Interesting. So what does this do to troop levels in Iraq? And do we have any troops left in case we need them elsewhere if something huge happens? Also, what proof do we have that increasing troop levels will actually help us find and destroy Taliban interests? I guess I'm like many Americans who burned out on the promises of Iraq. It's great that we helped create a democracy. There are days when too many near and dear lost too much for me to believe it was worth it. Unless there is proof that what we are doing in Afghanistan is actually helping keep us safe, I'm not sure that potential loss of what and who I love is worth it, either. Isolationism looks so good sometimes. It just does.

    February 17, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
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