No ‘Cookie-Cutter’ Surge

An Afghan ‘Surge’ no sure Winner

Afghanistan is not Iraq, and the even in the Iraqi “surge,” there was a lot more to it than just upping troop numbers.

Eric Edelman, the Pentagon’s top civilian policy advisor to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said the situation in Afghanistan is far different than the one faced by U.S. troops in Iraq during the darkest days of sectarian violence in 2006,

“We shouldn’t just focus on the numbers of forces,” Edelman told defense reporters at a Nov. 13 breakfast meeting in Washington. “The success of the surge in Iraq, in my view, was less a function of the increased numbers … it was what they were doing that mattered.”

“The single-minded focus on what’s the level of force is wrong headed because there are a lot of elements that go into it and there’s no magic number,” he added.


  1. Hmm. Afghanistan is a larger country than Iraq with a larger population, yet the total forces (US/NATO/Afghan) there are but a fraction of those in Iraq (<200k vs 700k+).

    Afghanistan is definitely not Iraq — the problem there given the historical tribal enmity, low literacy, and mountains of other problems is an order of magnitude worse. But you have to get at least a proportional number of forces in place before you can start saying “don’t focus on the numbers.”

    That said, a cookie cutter apporach of Iraq tactics to Afghanistan WILL fail. The approach needs singificant tailoring.

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