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When he took over as commander of the ongoing US war in Afghanistan late last year, Gen. John Nicholson was seen as opposed to the drawdown, and there was even speculation he’d seek increases in troop levels there, though he initially said levels should just remain flat.
Today, however, during his testimony to Congress, Nicholson is starting to push a major new military buildup for Afghanistan, complaining to Congress that the war is in a “stalemate,” and that several thousand more US troops need to be sent to break that stalemate. The assessment of a “stalemate” is not new, and is a very generous interpretation of the state of the Afghan War, over 15 years in, as the Afghan government has actually been losing ground left and right, holding less territory now than at any time since the occupation began.
While the US has been presenting the war as more or less over, they’ve been increasingly deploying troops back into combat areas around the country for a while, and stepping up airstrikes in support of the floundering Afghan military. This call for thousands more troops appear to portend even deeper military involvement.
Yet 15+ years into the war, it’s going to be a very tough sell that several thousand more troops are going to do anything, particularly when even larger troop levels earlier in the occupation never made any serious improvement in the situation on the ground. Gen. Nicholson appears to be hoping that selling Russia as involved in the conflict might lead to approval of the new plan, though as with most allegations of Russian involvement there is little to no evidence of it.