My inbox is ablaze with different people forwarding me information about the President deciding to dispatch a Marine Expeditionary Brigade and an Army Stryler Brigade to Afghanistan. Given that we’re not going to withdraw from Afghanistan—and shouldn’t—I think this is probably a good idea. Or, rather, what I’ll say is this. According to the U.N., there were 2,100 civilians killed in war-related ways in Afghanistan in 2008. About 55 percent of those casualties are attributable to the Taliban-led insurgency, which shows that they’re bad guys. But as Spencer Ackerman points out 45 percent isn’t a low number of civilians being killed by our ordnance. And 65 percent of those casualties are being caused by airstrikes. To remain effective in Afghanistan, we desperately need to reduce the civilian death toll. That means less airstrikes. Which probably means more boots on the ground. And hopefully more boots on the ground can also reduce civilian exposure to death-by-Taliban. That’d be how you get the job done.
And hopefully that’s what’s in store for these additional troops. But success of this venture is contingent not so much on the additional troops as on the adoption of a different strategy—one more focused on population security and less reliant on air power. It would be nice to learn some more details so as to really evaluate what’s happening.