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October 5th, 2009
07:36 AM ET

Can The Troops Wait?

As President Obama oversees a review of the military strategy in Afghanistan, do the troops have time to wait for reinforcements?

Want to know more? You can follow this story on cnn.com at http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/10/05/john.king.monday.memo/index.html

Leave us a comment below and Heidi will read some of them on the air, from 9a-11a in the Newsroom.


Filed under: Heidi Collins
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Steve B.

    I don't think we can win. It's Viet Nam all over again. Get the troops out now and bring them home. Put them to work protecting our borders instead of being world "police."

    October 5, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  2. ronvan

    8 dead, 25 wounded and we are "discussing" on what to do? There is NO country that is worth 1 American's life! With that said. Send ALL of our troops in! And then give them the "green light" to finish this mess. Once they are done then bring them ALL home!

    October 5, 2009 at 9:12 am |
  3. DeAnte'

    Our troops in Afghanistan do not have time to wait for reinforcements. They need to be removed from Afghanistan all together. Now that the insurgents in Iraq know that we will be leaving soon they will be turning their attention to Afghanistan in order to make sure that all of our insurgents are out of the middle east.

    October 5, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  4. Fran B. Reed

    Get out NOW !!!! We never should have gone in , and we
    have even less reason to be there now. It is a collection of
    tribes, and you can't tell who is the enemy. Some change
    sides according to who's winning. Russia already
    tried to win that country for a space to put pipes for oil.
    Forget it. Osama is in Pakistan. Bring our troops home.

    October 5, 2009 at 9:19 am |
  5. Robert Owens

    As a nation we committed to taking out the Taliban and Al Queda in Afghanistan. Just because the going is getting tough doesn't mean we should pack up and go home. It should mean that we come up with a comprehensive plan to leave after we have eliminated the Taliban and Al Queda as a force in the area.

    October 5, 2009 at 9:19 am |
  6. Gerard Cefalu

    Before Sending More Troops into Afghanistan

    As a 26 year Retired Air force Vietnam veteran, I think the way we are fighting this war is wrong at many levels. Our strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan appears vague, endless and rittled with unclear or unrealistic goals while the engagement goes on draining our precious manpower and financial recourses. In Vietnam, we underestimated the staying power, skill, ingenuity and willingness to die of the enemy. Quite simply, they outlasted us in a long protracted war of attrition in which they were willing to sacrifice considerably more casualties than the United States. North Vietnam taught us how the wars of the future were going to be fought, limited with different definitions of victory.

    First; in order to be successful against our enemy, we need to mobilize the nation with a mandatory two year service, (without college deferments). Presently, less than one percent, (military), of the population of this nation bears the burden and sacrifices which is strategically and morally wrong. This has weakened our military and created a false sense of security, while the rest of the country hardly knows a war is going on. Our country has never fought a war without a mobilization, which rightly places the burden on all Americans. Moreover, we have never used Reserve and National Guard forces in place of a draft, as we are doing in the so called back door draft policies implemented by the Pentagon since 2001, further weakening our military and home emergency needs.
    Second; in order to achieve our goals, we have to hit them with overwhelming force then move on to the next base camp. Occupying Arab countries for long periods of time is suicidal in this new equation since our culture and religions are so diametrically incompatible to each other and Al-Qaida cross borders at will. The situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan require the ability to gather intelligence, kill the enemy, better the lives of the people and set up self rule, and get out as soon as possible.
    Third; in 2001, we took down the Taliban in Afghanistan with CIA and Special Forces units together with the Northern Alliance and the Warlords that we could win over against the Taliban. I suggest our strategy should be to let the present Afghan government stand up to bat, or, let the Taliban force their bloody rule as before and keep a force of CIA and Special Forces deployed and wait for the Afghan people and Warlords to rise up to throw out the Taliban ,( as we are beginning to see in the Taliban controlled regions of NW Pakistan), then implement our successful tactics of 2001 In the meantime, concentrate hitting Al- Qaida base camps with hit and run ground and heavy air support. Any other plan will incur heavy American loses because Afghans and the Warlords will not tolerate any foreign standing army. We cannot impose democracy on a land living in the eight century and ruled by feudal lords. Graduated increases building up to a large standing Army will only result in a bloody, endless unsuccessful entanglement. These deficiencies needed to be dealt with six years ago but were surrendered to the political expedience of the President and military leaders who should have remembered the lessons of Vietnam, the Soviets in Afghanistan and any standing army since Alexander the Great.
    Moreover, I ask you why the Powell doctrine was ignored in regards to Iraq and Afghanistan and to this day is not applied to the present request to increase troops to Afghanistan? The traditional American idea of a victory is impossible to achieve, since it would take millions of boots on the ground and then victory would be questionable without the full support of the Afghan population. In the meantime concentrate hitting Al- Qaida base camps with hit and run ground and heavy air support. Any other plan will lose because the Afghans and the Warlords will not tolerate any foreign standing army. We cannot impose democracy on a land living in the eight century and ruled by feudal lords. Graduated increases building up to a huge standing army will only result in bloody and an endless unsuccessful entanglement.
    In the words of Gen William Westmoreland, on the Vietnam War, “When the President and his administration failed to level with the American people about the extent and nature of the sacrifice that had to be made; they contributed to a credibility gap that grew into an unbridgeable chasm. A low key approach (no draft or one with college deferments), means that some make sacrifices while most do not, and even those who make no sacrifice dislike it because their consciences trouble them. IF A WAR IS DEEMED WORTHY OF THE DEDICATION AND SACRIFICE OF THE MILITARY SERVICES, IT IS ALSO WORTHY OF THE COMMITMENT OF THE ENTIRE POPULATION." (A Soldier Reports, p500,). He also warned about the failure of graduated response, the failure of waiting too long to pursue the enemy into Laos and Cambodia (i.e. make it known we will destroy the attackers of 9/11 wherever they are, including Pakistan). These are just some of the lessons learned from the last insurgent war that we fought.
    My son just completed his second tour of duty to the desert. How many more sons and daughters will have to serve innumerable combat tours before the rest of the sleeping public wakes up to the seriousness of the situation. Our enemy has millions of fresh recruits to draw from while we have exhausted the military heroes who are just trying to do their job. How much longer are we going to fill the VA hospitals with new young injured veterans that have to compete with limited VA funds to treat veterans of previous wars, as they slowly bleed us? I hope we wake up before it’s too late. We must change our policy in this insurgent war or face the cold reality of history lessons forgotten.
    Gerard Cefalu USAF RETIRED

    October 5, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  7. Tom

    Greetings:

    There is no need for any more troops or the troops that are already there.

    President Obama came into office preaching that he would have dialogues with the "enemy" without preconditions. Where is that campaign promise when it comes to the Taliban?

    Even with the Taliban he should have talks without preconditions.

    Why not invite Taliban commanders onto CNN shows and give them ample time to say everything they want to say?

    October 5, 2009 at 9:24 am |
  8. Chris

    This is not a case of whether or not the troops have time to wait for reinforcments. Hypothetically if President Obama would have approved troops to go in a month ago none of them would be there right now. It takes time to deploy troops especially 60k+ troops. I have a step brother in the army that is not going to be going to Iraq till March of next year.

    October 5, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  9. Nan

    No they can't wait. Obama said he had a plan when he put McCristol in charge, now he says he doesn't have a plan. This is costing American lives and Obama does not seem to be very strong on management skills, decisions seem to be done by committee. What are his goals? if he has none right now, bring our people home. They don't need to die over there, because the commander in chief can't command.

    October 5, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  10. Susan Reinhardt

    I don't think President Obama has any choice but to clean up yet another of George Bush's messes. To quote a recent interview with a Taliban commander – "The American invasion of Iraq was very positive for us. It distracted the US from Afghanistan. It allowed our resistance to become more lethal, with new weapons and techniques." If we pull out of Afghanistan now, the Taliban will quickly fill the vacuum then turn again to al Qaeda for assistance. Having them unite with the Taliban in Pakistan will be the world's worse nightmare.

    October 5, 2009 at 10:14 am |
  11. Ed Walter

    To win in Afghanistan will take a much larger commitment, not from our troops, not from Obama, but from the American people. McChrystal is asking for bare minimum just to keep form losing. To win, we need several hundred thousand toops and a long occupation along with the social programs to put in place local governments that the Taliban cannot overthrow once we leave. And that menas we, the American people will have to volunteer to serve and dedicate the treasury to pay for it.

    If we cannot do those things, then it is time to bring our troops home and figure out how to deal with Al Qeada another way.

    October 5, 2009 at 10:15 am |
  12. amin yousouf

    Dear Heidi:
    I was born in Afghanistan and I am in the u.s for about 31 years. I love America and that comes from my heart. Afghanistan has a history that no world's pawor ever had control there. Only Afghan can beat the Afghan. The formula in Afghanistan is the enomy of my enomy is my freind. America do have to send any more of the beautiful American boys. Amerca should use the Afghani to take care of the Taliban in the south and south Easter and western. Impower Dostom and Northern alien to fight on the ground, house to houses, and push them back to Pakistan where they were created. I am surpprised that the American head in war can not understand that yet. I do not downgrading the America army or any other great American power. I wan America to win the war and the least lose of great young and brave men and women. Pakistan has used the Afghani over Afghani and they have done well for the last 30years. this way America will win the war and Afganistan will have porgrass and developed better. Afghanistan need an Armey, Police force, education for young people, work for majarity, and securty most importent.

    October 5, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  13. Lisa

    I think Obama should put this issue ahead of the olympics.Our troops are on the line here and the last thing he should worry about is where the games will take place.Priorities Obama...

    October 5, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  14. Rebecca Walbecq

    I am a young wife and mother. My husband has been trying to join the army. He always had the desire to join the military. His father was a United States Navy Coreman for 10 years and his great grand father was a United States Army Interpreter from 1917 to 1921. I would say serving his country is in my blood. My husband and I decided that joining the United States Army would be the gateway to a better life. Through the Army we would be able to receive health benefits, education, and a safe community with people who share the same goals and aspirations all while my husband gets to serve and defend our country. With the current tensions growing in our world from countries like Afghanistan, this fuels the flame of desire he has to serve his country. I wish signing the dotted line was easy for us but with the current decisions not being made for our country our family is put on hold too! I bothers me that our president who said he will win this war is not keeping his word. I voted for change but not change for the worst!

    October 5, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  15. JT of S.C

    Lindsay Graham said we should'nt make a Quick decision on health INSURANCE reform,therefore we should'nt make a Quick decision on sending in more troops.Get out Irac!!

    October 5, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  16. Kari

    To those who want to pull out of Afghanistan, does the date 9-11-01 mean anything? If the US simply leaves, the Taliban will go back in and we will again be attacked by these people. This is where our efforts should have been, rather than punishing some dictator who wanted assassinate a former president. We wasted the last 6 years and over 4,000 lives in a country we should have never been in. It has distracted us from where the real war was and still is. It wasted lives for nothing and pushed us deepter into this recession with billions and billions in debt – all a waste.

    However, we cannot win without the Afghans at the forefront of the effort. The country still has to be rebuilt from over 20 years of wars and then Taliban who did their best to destroy everything. Now, it's time to refocus where our efforts should have been all along.

    October 5, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  17. CJ

    On 9/12/2001 Americans stood in the street and cried for the blood of those responcible for the attacks on our country. Now as we are facing difficult times in the Afgan regions, Americans have seemingly forgotten why we are there. As American troops are killed and we are required to increase forces in Afghanistan, some want to turn tail and run. I would strongly suggest surfing the net, finding some 9/11/2001 videos of attacks being carried out on American soil, then take a step back and allow our defense department to make the call on the number of troops required. Americans are fickle when it comes to war, quickly we are ready to send troops to gain revenge for American lives lost, but when the war begins to look like a war, the same revenge seekers are quick to change their mind. Freedom is not cheap.

    October 5, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  18. katie brownell

    How easily we forget about how the terrorists of 9/11 brought this war to us! If we leave then they WIN!!! This also clearly shows that in order to be the Commander and Cheif you should have to have served in the military. While our troops, who are doing their best to protect us and our way of life are over there getting blown apart; our so called Commander and Cheif is off playing movie star. Does this bozo even have a clue about what the hell is going on around the world, or what it means to our security? I would love to see how much active military time if any his little cabinet even has. Either do what is right for our troops or pull them the hell out and we the American innocent people will pay the price again. We cannot afford to let this become another Vietnam, the stakes are TOO high. Do your job Mr. Pres and let the actors and actresses worry about theirs!

    October 5, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  19. Frankie

    Hey Heidi, my son Cpl Pruitt Rainey was killed in action on July 13, 2008 in The Battle of Wanat, Afghanistan. 9 KIA and 27 Injured with a 75% casualty rate. It was the deadliest battle to date in this War. The same type battle occurred yesterday in the exact same area, same place in Afghanistan, as we all wait patiently on our Commander in Chief to make his political decision regardless of the requests coming from Gates and Mcchrystal along with troops dying in Afghanistan daily. I personally ask the President to quit thinking and guessing and act, act immediately.

    CBS news with Katie C. will release a story tonight on CBS nightly news covering the Battle of Wanat. The Battle of Wanat was featured in People Magazine Hero's 2008 and on CNN Memorial Day Hero's this year. Myself with the other parents have uncovered and push agressively for an independent investigation by the DOD into this Battle. General Petraus and the DOD approved and released a new independent investigation Sept 30, 2009 on the Battle of Wanat for Commander Dereliction of Duty and Army negligence. Almost to the date, Sunday, same battle, same place, same time, same casualty rate, 8 KIA and 25 Injured????????????????????????

    Time is of the essense.

    Frankie

    October 5, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  20. ken

    The troops can wait for afghanistan troops not american troops. It is their country and they need to stand up for it. When are we going to wake up.
    American troops need to be removed from afghanistan, and iraq immediately. The us is broke and everything is coming down around us but yet we seem to spend all our time worring about iran, the taliban, and al queda.

    October 5, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  21. Bear

    "but yet we seem to spend all our time worring about iran, the taliban, and al queda."

    Well geez Ken. Maybe it's because Iran has the ability to build nukes. And maybe we worry about Al Qaeda because if we didn't. We'd be waking up to more news about planes crashing into buildings.

    October 5, 2009 at 11:20 am |
  22. val

    I agree that NOT ONE AMERICAN LIFE IS WORTH sacrificing except for USA. Let us change stragegy NOW! It will indicate OUR DEFEAT, so what! To continue with the present is MUCH WORSE! SUICIDAL! It is ok to help, but, we MUST help USA first! AMERICANS NEED AMERICA IN USA!

    October 5, 2009 at 11:22 am |
  23. Bear

    Oh and yes and no to the question.

    Yes, they can and will have no choice but to wait for more US troops. Even if Obama were to announce additions troops are on their way, later this week. It'll take months to plan out and execute. It won't happen over night.

    No, they can't wait for the Afghan people to rise up and join this fight.

    October 5, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  24. Barbara Culbreath

    I think that the president should do as he is doing, take his time and evaluate this situation.This is a fight that America cannot win! The people there in Afganistan are not even willing to fight themselves! While were fighting a war that was unnecesary, the talaban and whoever else were able to get stronger and stronger!!!! We should have concentrated on Alpganistan.thats where 911 generated from, not Irac! People in that area of the world have been fighting each other for years and years , even before Christ was Born! It will always be that way. We have people in our own country that are terrorists and they are all not from over there. Some are Americans!!!!! We need to leave and let them fight their own wayUse that money for health care reform!
    American ca

    October 5, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  25. John Burkhart

    They would have plenty of time if the administration didn't publicize their internal debate over the issue. How many times do the terrorists have to blatantly correlate their activities with the debates going on in this country? The terrorists launched their attack in an obvious response to the vacillating US policy in an effort to influence it and get us to pull out. Or put another way – they're flinging down the gauntlet and challenging the new administration...

    October 5, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  26. David

    Good Morning Heidi,

    On the one hand, it would be a good sign is Gen. Jones view, that we need fewer troops in Afghanistan than Gen McCrystal is publicly asking for, is a correct assessment. It would indicate that we are on our way to Afghans having complete control of their country. As a viewer, watching reports coming from that country, one quickly notices how ready the Afghans are to dive into the issues facing them in their towns and cities. They are standing poised to deal with those questions and in many cases have survey the situations–extent of food aid needed, extent of medical education for the populace as well as medical facilities needed–and have made in roads–starting schools, planning schools–and are more aware of the dynamics of their own political situation less at the mercy of faction than maybe Iraq.

    All those things are signs of hope. Additionally we are already surging 20,000 plus troops into Afghanistan to meet the increased attacks from the insurgency there.

    On the other hand, an additional surge of troops accompanied by a surge in assistance in areas where the afghans need it, building schools, medical facilities, refurbishing and building needed infrastructure, assuring safety in travel throughout the country would I think put us over the top in Afghanistan. As Peter Bergen notes in his article w/Leslie Gelb, repeated polls show that this country is receptive to the US presence there, another pt raised in the article is that the Afghan army 90,000 strongs, should be further strengthened. At the same time there is a stunning statistic–and Afghan civilian is actually safer than and American civilian thanks to crime in this country.

    This points to a delicate balance of putting in more troops so as keep and sustain support and progress but not flooding the country so overwhelming as to provoke an all out outrage of being occupied. The Afghans are feeling like they could have a country and build a life for themselves together to put it directly. A further surge of energies as well as muscle would help us do that.

    Just a beautiful overview of issues facing the Supreme Court, 2nd Amendment issues, questions about the Hague convention, how the rulings and opinions of the Supreme Court will be impacted by newest member of that body, Justice Sotomayor, on this the first Monday in October. Thank you very much for posting your conversation with Jeffery Toobin on the podcast.

    October 5, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  27. Andy Powell

    Heidi,

    this is in response to your request for comments about our going forward strategy in Afghanistan. First some context: My wife and I are about as "anti-war" as you are going to find. We have always had every anti-war bumper sticker and refrigerator magnet known to man and are vocal with our beliefs.

    Last December our son, Ben, enlisted in the Air Force and this week is heading off to "tech school" to be trained in a medical services "nursing" role and intends to volunteer for advanced training that will permit him to be deployed as a medic. He says he "wants to save" people – this has deep meaning for him. We fully supported his decision to enlist and his choice to pursue a path that will likely put him in "harms way". In fact we are unspeakably proud of him.

    So to your question: As difficult this is for us – what would be tragic is if our son and others like him are hurt or worse because we pursued a strategy that is impossible to achieve with the given level of troop support. How tragic would it be if their sacrifice is ultimately cause by our own mismanagement? They have enough dangers to deal with from the Taliban and Al Qaida as it is – they don't need to fear that they will be asked to do something without the protection and support their willingness to sacrifice demands.

    So, our goals have to match the level of support we provide. If we do not commit more troops, then our strategy and tactics must change! I hope we find a way to achieve our objectives of a stable and self supporting Afghani government without increasing the number of troops.

    Andy

    October 6, 2009 at 12:21 am |
  28. Brianna

    That request by the government is directly infringing upon our American beliefs and our freedom. I do wish for all people to live healthy and prosperous lives however not at the expense of an employers and (even worse) especially not at the demand of the government.

    October 6, 2009 at 9:30 am |
  29. Bear

    If Iraq never came into the picture. We'd have more than enough soldiers/marines in Afghanistan right now.

    October 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  30. MR.AL

    We are in a place where the people hate us. I think we have done our part it's time we come home and defend our own land and borders and spend money on America and it's people middle on down to the poor and get America on track not lop sided as it is now.

    October 6, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  31. Kim

    While Obama has meetings, we have more troops in trouble or dead......either send more troops or bring everyone home!!! As Americans, we stood up for ourselves and took control of our country. Afghanis should do the same. Poop or get off the pot as my mother would always say.....But leaving our troops over there to be murdered should be considered treason!!!!

    October 6, 2009 at 7:01 pm |
  32. Jackie

    We called them "Our Boys" in WW2, not the generic "Troops", and so many are boys, right out of high school and on the brink of manhood.
    We didn't bear them and raise them to be slaughtered in a stupid war. Why don't the countries near Afghanistan band together to fight the war? It sickens me to see the weekly body count. We need to get out and mind our own business.

    October 6, 2009 at 8:12 pm |
  33. Potomac Wonderfool

    When I was in management, we had a favorite term – Analysis Paralysis. Analysis is used as an excuse by analytical intellectuals to nt make any decisions (in case you wonder, I have a Ph.D. in Engineering). Obama seems to be a prime example of that. He seems to be more intent on appearing intelligent and analytical by taking time to juxtapose Bush. My bridge playing father had a favorite line for me – in playing bridge, some people make more time to make the same mistakes they would have made in seconds. Obama appears to be one of those. He also seems to be thinking of next election in trying to keep his immature voting block. As they say "xxxx or get off the pot" and let the chips fall where they may.

    October 6, 2009 at 8:58 pm |
  34. Art in Louisiana

    Well now I understand what we are fighting for in Afghanistan compared to 8 years ago. We just can't leave. The people need our help. We pull out before after the Afghans won against the Soviet, and we got the Taliban. Even the troops know what we are fighting for. If we leave the Taliban will take over. Sad to say but stay and let's not repeat the past. I am sure the general and CIA know what they are saying. Problem is President Obama has a big dilema. Either put more Troops in and get critized, blamed, for death by both parties and people; or not put in troops and drag out the war causing more death, and people crying out for a pullout. Can troops wait... Time will tell. I wish him the best of luck with this tough decision. I'll be praying for him.

    October 7, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  35. BOB

    After reading other comments thoroughly, I now defer to Gerard Cefalu, who makes a logical an informed argument based on what appears to be the reality of the situation, as opposed to the current administration's stated strategy of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton......

    October 7, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  36. Sandy

    If this decision is based on the taliban and al quaeda, truthfully and unequivocally, then yes, we should send troops, and if NATO, Afghanistan and Pakistan are also commited to demise of taliban and al queida then yes, but I want to know how it all fits together with everyone's commitment, not "just" America...we can not always be the the only nation to embrace peace and a free world...terrorism is a global problem, you see the death toll around the world in every major city. It scares me to death to know al quaeda is still going strong but it also scares me to death that this will become another Iraq where we simply did not belong. America's mission was cloaked by a dishonest administration who sought to try to justify Iraq rather than continue to seek and desist al quaeda and the taliban.

    October 7, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  37. BOB

    Dear Sandy et al, America practically installed Sadam Hussein in power to counter Iranian terrorist actions. Perhaps the mistake was made back then, therefore a responsibility to remove Sadam from power, as he would not resign...as dictators are reluctant to do I suppose?
    Knee jerk comments by people without any memory of history are as bad as hypocrites. What is the truth? Just ask Jack Nicholson I guess.

    October 7, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  38. M. Mathews

    What part of history doesn’t the ego driven males in Washington DC not understand? Russia sent in thousands of troops and it did no good; Afghanistan is still the same.

    October 26, 2009 at 12:59 pm |