McChrystal Report: More Forces or Failure in Afghanistan

Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s August 30 report — which the White House has worked to suppress — says in no uncertain terms that to avoid defeat in Afghanistan, America and its allies must invest more troops, material and time.

HUMAN EVENTS has obtained a copy of the full unclassified report, in which McChrystal points to the “dual threat of a resilient insurgency and a crisis of confidence in the government and the international coalition” as the obstacles to victory.

The full 66-page report can be read here in pdf format (see the first five pages for the commander’s summary).

In the highly publicized report Gen. McChrystal, commander of United States Forces in Afghanistan, warns that only “unwavering commitment” signaled by an increase in troops and shift in strategy will bring victory in the war-torn nation.

“We must do things dramatically differently — to change how we operate, and also how we think,” McChrystal writes in a five-page summary of the 66 page report. “The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily, but we can defeat ourselves.”

McChrystal declares that a failure to “gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum” within the next 12 months “risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.”

"Although considerable effort and sacrifice have resulted in some progress, many indicators suggest the overall effort is deteriorating," he writes.

The content of the report was first publicized by The Washington Post, which said it withheld publication of portions of the document at the government’s request.

The sudden publicity of the sobering assessment is likely to provide further unwanted distraction from President Obama’s health care media push, coming only hours after Obama made unprecedented appearances on several Sunday morning talk shows.

When questioned about the president’s response to the sudden pressure to increase troops in Afghanistan and risk endangering his support from the left, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama’s attention is not yet focused on resource decisions.

Insisting that a focus on this new strategy “will be revolutionary to our effectiveness,” McChrystal’s assessment, while dour, does not preclude the possibility of lasting success.

“As we analyzed the situation, I became increasingly convinced of several themes,” writes McChrystal, “that the objective is the will of the people, our conventional warfare culture is part of the problem, the Afghans must ultimately defeat the insurgency, we cannot succeed without significantly improved unity of effort, and finally, that protecting the people means shielding them from all threats.”

There is currently no deadline for a decision to commit more troops to Afghanistan, and the president has insisted there has been no effort to delay such a request until a more politically opportune time.