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Obama Sending 13,000 More U.S. Troops to Afghanistan

By Kenneth J. Theisen

President Obama is currently considering a request by General Stanley McChrystal to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. This is on top of Obama’s decision in March of this year to escalate the war by sending 21,000 additional combat troops to that war-torn country. But what escaped public notice until now was that Obama had also agreed to send extra support troops to Afghanistan.
Today’s Washington Post reveals that on top of those 21,000, “an extra 13,000 ‘enablers’ are also being deployed. They are mainly engineers, medical staff, intelligence officers and military police.” This deployment of the “enablers” brings the total increase in troops approved by Obama for Afghanistan to 34,000.
According to the Post story there were 65,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in early October. The number is expected to reach 68,000 by the end of the year. It is not clear how many will be deployed by 2010, but it will undoubtedly be much higher with the latest revelation, even if Obama does not grant McChrystal’s request. It is widely reported that McChrystal has requested up to an additional 40,000 U.S. troops. In his earlier report to the president, and in various publicized remarks, he has stated that these forces are needed to prevent Afghanistan from falling into the hands of the opposition. I expect that Obama will give McChrystal added troops as per his request, but it is impossible at this time to know how many more will be deployed.
In addition to this little-noticed increase in support troops to be sent to Afghanistan, most Americans have not realized that the Bush and Obama administrations have increased the overall numbers in the U.S. military. When Obama was running for president he pledged to enlarge the military forces by about 92,000 additional troops. He requested additional funds this year to accelerate the increase in the size of the military. Congress agreed to the request. Also this past summer, War Secretary Robert Gates ordered an additional “temporary” increase of 22,000 soldiers to the overall military numbers.
Despite the fact that the U.S. already spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined, these additional troops are urgently needed as the U.S. under Obama is waging wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. With this latest troop increase the Obama administration now has more troops at war than the Bush regime had at war at the time of the Iraq surge. Is this why he won the Nobel Peace Prize?
Also most news stories fail to mention the tens of thousands of private contractors employed by the U.S. in these various war zones. In Afghanistan there are at least 60,000 such contractors employed by the Department of Defense. There are also contractors employed by the State Department and other U.S. agencies in the war zones. 
Recently there have been accounts of infighting among top members of the U.S. ruling class about how best to proceed in Afghanistan. On one side there are those who support McChrystal’s view that there is a need for additional troops on the ground in Afghanistan to defeat or at least contain the Taliban. On the other side, led by VP Joe Biden, we are told that there is a greater need to focus on al Queda and their bases, in not only Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan. The argument on this side is that the U.S. needs to use more special operations forces and missile strikes on both sides of the border.
The stakes for U.S. imperialism are high in Afghanistan and this is why this debate is crucial to the ruling class and why they are allowing the debate to be revealed publicly to some extent. But nowhere in the debate are the interests of the people being put forward. Members of the ruling class are debating how best to achieve U.S. imperialist goals. Whichever strategy they pursue, the war will continue and it is sure to cost the lives of thousands of Afghans and Pakistanis. 
The great majority of people in this country have no stake in which faction of the ruling class wins this debate. Our interests demand that these imperialist wars end. No significant faction within the ruling circles is putting this demand forward, nor will they at this time. That is why we must mobilize millions to do so. These wars will end when the people demand it and nothing short of this will do.


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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.