20 November 2009

Coalition of the Willing or Coalition of Not What I Asked For?

On an earlier post I attempted to speculate on President Obama's decision making process with respect to his pending AfPak strategy announcement. I think my speculative analysis of our Commander in Chief's AfPak meetings is still the most probable scenario. The interesting meeting for me was meeting #7 with the Joint Chiefs of Staff because as I stated, President Obama most likely had his mind made up and wanted the Joint Chiefs to lay out the intricacies of the logistical piece. As Pat replied Richard Holbrooke was dispatch to several nations, the most interesting being Russia. The reason being, we need Russia to play ball on this from a logistical stand point as another option for supply routes that don't travel through the Khyber Pass.

Now lets look at the Wall Street Journal's latest article and see how the pieces are falling into place. The WSJ reports that the Obama Administration has reached out to key NATO allies in recent weeks seeking increased troop commitments to the tune of 3000-7000. Lets take the high number, this means that Obama can send McChrystal 33,000 US troops and still met his request. NATO is going to hold a meeting on Dec 3 to finalize troop commitments following Obama's troop announcement. Most media groups report that Obama has 4 options on his plate with a 35,000 troop commitment mixed between combat and training forces being the favorite option. That means he only has to garner 5,000 additional coalition troops from NATO. Let me say that I actually appreciate the current administration's approach in their attempt to build "The Coalition of the Willing". Having said that, I want to now look at this possible decision from a military perspective.

The higher echelons of our military, to include Gen McChrystal's Staff, conduct a relative combat power analysis. This analysis is a way for the military to quantify the strengths of different units, so that we are making decisions based on Apples to Apples and not Apples to Oranges. I am speculating here; I believe President Obama is comfortable with only sending 35,000 troops but wants to give Gen McChrystal the 40,000 he requested. No one is going to stand up and say that garnering support from NATO allies is not worth the effort, but I don't believe that is what Gen McChrystal asked for. An Italian or Turkish battalion is not the same as an American battalion. We are no longer talking apples to apples. According to the WSJ the possible troop increases will look as follows:

Great Britain: 500 but the Administration believes they are willing to send up to 2,000 more (I love the Brits, if AQ was on Mars they would be on a space ship next to us)
Italy: 400 (Keeping the increased Afghan election security forces already deployed)
Turkey: 800 (Doubling their forces to 1600 total)
Romania: 600
France: They send none, but the Administration believes a troop reduction from Kosovo would free up 1,000 additional troops.
Germany: 1500 (This one is a reach, it will take serious political maneuvering from Angela Merkel to pull this off and it won't be decided until early next year)

So its 2300 highly likely, and 6300 if Great Britain, France, and Germany come through in a huge way. Either way, Gen McChrystal will take it and run even though Italy, Romania, and Turkey do not give him the same combat power the American equivalent he asked for gives him. There are two other points I want to bring attention to. With the creation of the Assist and Advise Battalion (AAB), there is no difference between combat soldiers and training forces. The combat soldiers will partner with ANA forces and the AAB units retain the ability to project combat power within their area of operations. The other point I want to comment on, the WSJ did not provide any information as to what kind of units the NATO countries are planning on sending. If our NATO allies agreed to send service and support units then McChrystal's arithmetic won't add up.

What I want anyone who reads this to understand are two things. I speculated that Gen McChrystal's assessment called for 40,000 American troops, not a combination of NATO and US. I also speculated that President Obama believes 40,000 counter insurgents in any capacity meets Gen McChrystal's request. I am confident that the main stream media will not analyze the differences between 40,000 US soldiers being very different from a combination of 40,000 US and NATO soldiers. Let me conclude by asking, I am sure Gen McChrystal wants as many NATO soldiers as possible, but did he request 40,000 total counter insurgents or 40,000 American soldiers?


1 comment:

  1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/25/AR2009112500725.html?wprss=rss_world/wires

    The Post reported that NATO will provide 5000 additional soldiers to Afghanistan, so I think we can surmise that Obama will announce 35,000 US troops.