The bodies of US soldiers killed in Afghanistan last weekend have arrived back home. If a recent poll is to be believed, most Americans claim they are prepared to accept such casualties in the battle against terrorism. However, in the same survey, many of those questioned remain sceptical about sending extra troops to fight the Taliban, which is something the US and NATO’s top soldier in Afghanistan has requested.Earlier this month in London, General Stanley McChrystal repeated his call for a major troop increase. ‘‘We need to reverse the current trend and time does matter. Waiting does not prolong a favourable outcome,” he said. It is unclear, however, what Afghan strategy the White House will follow. Military chiefs want up to 40,000 extra soldiers. That would be unpopular with some, notably Vice-President Joe Biden. He favours an alternative approach by focusing on al- Qaeda with air strikes, particularly in Pakistan. Yesterday, President Obama held a behind-closed- doors session with key members of Congress. Afterwards, Republican Senator John McCain backed the US high command’s call. “I am very convinced that General McChrystal’s analysis is not only correct but should be employed as soon as possible … This is a strategy and the resources that they (McChrystal and Petreaus) believe are necessary to succeed. It is the president’s final decision but I certainly think that their recommendation should be given great weight given the success of their leadership in the past,” McCain said. The President has ruled out withdrawal but remains cautious, knowing that any decision could prove unpopular. Despite that, Obama says the US will not shy away from al Qaeda. “It should now be clear. The USA and our partners have sent an unmistakable message: We will target al Qaeda wherever they take root; we will not yield in our pursuit; and we are developing the capacity and the cooperation to deny a safe haven to any who threaten America and its allies,” Obama said. One possible war strategy reportedly being considered would be to incorporate some additional forces alongside a stepped-up campaign against al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Afghanistan.
US ponders Afghan strategy