U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan
The Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy announced in March promised increased resources and coordination in a war Obama described as shortchanged by the Bush administration. He authorized deployment of an additional 21,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, a surge of hundreds of civilian officials and a significant boost in military and aid funding for both countries.
The results so far have been uncertain. The Pakistani military has rousted the local Taliban from the Swat Valley area, and missiles launched from unmanned U.S. aircraft have killed a number of insurgent leaders in the Pakistan tribal areas along the Afghan border. But no progress has been reported on Obama's main goal of destroying al-Qaeda's sanctuary in the border area.
The stepped-up U.S. effort in Afghanistan has shown few results over a summer marked by an expanding Taliban presence and the highest U.S. casualty rate of the eight-year war. Obama appointed a new commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who has assessed the situation as "serious" and is expected to ask for more troops. As Congress has grown increasingly restive and opinion polls show falling public support, the administration has said real progress must be visible within 12 to 18 months.
-- Karen DeYoung