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Flournoy, Jones & Nicholson At AEI

Two posts for the Windy in a surprisingly newsy address. This one is about some new stuff the undersecretary of defense for policy said about the new Afghanistan strategy:

Asked by TWI to clarify how large the Afghan Army and police ought to grow to take over security responsibilities — a point somewhat obscured in last week’s congressional testimony — Flournoy declined to cite a specific figure, saying instead the Obama administration will measure the Army and police annually to determine progress in “recruitment, retention, reduc[ing] attrition, [and] performance to “set the next year’s targets based on performance, in part, of the last year.” She said that the administration is in ongoing dialogue with Canada and the Netherlands, two allied countries scheduled to remove their troops from Afghanistan in 2010, about possible continued contributions to the war effort. “All options are still on the table in discussion,” Flournoy said. And she said that as happy as the administration was to receive a new NATO troop commitment of 7,000 after last week’s NATO foreign ministerial summit, the administration expects “additional allied troops” to be promised “in the weeks ahead.” (Hey, where’d you read that last week?)

And this one is about Paul Jones, the S/RAP deputy and Brig. Gen. John Nicholson, the leader of the PACC, clarifying the civilian components of the strategy:

Jones’ big news: as arduous as it’s been for the U.S. government’s civilian agencies to implement the so-called “civilian surge,” that surge is getting surgier. In the coming weeks, the Obama administration will ask Congress to provide additional funding for more civilian advisers and experts to deploy to Afghanistan, “beyond” the roughly 1,000 civilians expected to be in-country by next month. New consulates will open around the country, Jones said, including in Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat. Since the majority of U.S. forces in Afghanistan will focus on the south and the east, those new consulates suggest additional diplomatic activity in the north and the west will be the lion’s share of U.S. efforts at maintaining stability (in the west) or rolling back creeping insurgent advances with non-U.S.-NATO forces (in the north). …

Nicholson, the Joint Staff’s top man focusing on Afghanistan and a veteran of the war himself, elaborated on which ministries that effort will target: the security ministries of Defense and Interior, as well as the Agriculture ministry and the ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.

Thanks to moderator Fred Kagan for graciously letting me ask a question. You can just feel me selling out…

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Spencer Ackerman

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