General Petraeus’s Surge Map
It’s an American pathology. In just about every military mission since Vietnam, we’ve rushed to declare premature defeat. Now, one year into the Afghan surge, Congress, members of the foreign policy establishment and Joe Biden want a speedy drawdown of forces by this summer. Pulling the plug early could make the fantasy of failure real.
In its policy review last week, the White House called recent progress in Afghanistan “fragile and reversible.” It’s a phrase that Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has used for years, including when he oversaw the successful U.S. surge in Iraq.
Speak to him now at his Kabul headquarters, and he points you to a series of maps. Blots of dark red signify Taliban control, yellow shows contested areas, and green plots are now in his hands. The slides tell a story of counterinsurgency (“COIN,” in milspeak) in action.
Where the military went in robustly—with the Marines in Marjah and Nawa, or the Army west of Kandahar in the south—the Taliban folded. By tripling the number of troops to nearly 100,000, the Americans are able to hold areas they had cleared. The enemy red patches shrink.