First of all, let’s go back in time and reminisce about Jack Murtha’s comments on Iraq.
“The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction.”
Murtha was only marginally right. A change in direction was needed, but it was clear that our troops we’re not doing all they could do. He then recommended that our troops cut and run, er, redeploy, which would have been a change in the wrong direction. He spoke these words three months before the Golden Mosque bombing, at a time when al Qaeda was emergent and when the security situation was unraveling. I’d rather not speculate how Iraq would be had we followed Murtha’s advice, but I seriously doubt it would be in the comparatively more favorable situation it is in today. Needless to say, Murtha was diametrically opposed to the surge strategy which brought Iraq to its present state.
Undaunted by his overwhelming wrongness, Jack Murtha is now opining about Afghanistan. The title of the piece is “Murtha says Afghanistan plan lacks goal,” which to me is exactly backward. The goal of a sustainable, relatively stable and relatively free non-Taliban-led Afghanistan lacks a plan. He suggested that it would take 600,000 troops to pacify the country, saying that the number was “based on the country’s history of rigorous fighting and its size,” but I suspect that he pulled it from a smelly place in the general direction of his backside.
Murtha is right that more indigenous forces need to be trained and deployed, but in order to recruit and train, there needs to be a modicum of security. The growth of Taliban-led insurgency is adversely affecting the security environment. As I’ve written elsewhere, there are solutions to be had, and it doesn’t just involve throwing more troops at the problem.
Joshua Foust is in Afghanistan right now and he has interesting entries on the subject here, here and here. Along those lines, Herschel Smith has an entry on forward operating bases in Afghanistan, and Andrew Lubin has a good use for the Marines: Move all 23,000 in Iraq to Afghanistan.