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August 11, 2009

McChrystal didn't say Taliban were winning

I wrote yesterday about an article in the Wall Street Journal with the headline "Taliban now winning". The article was based on an interview w/ Gen. McChrystal and contained a number of direct quotes from him. It also contained several paraphrases purporting to represent his thoughts, such as.

The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American
commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the
eight-year-old conflict...
They quote McChrystal directly many times throughout the piece but
somehow this bit is absent quotes and I think they may be
mis-characterizing what he actually said. If he actually believes they
have gained the upper hand, that would be quite significant, but it
seems more likely he said they have gained ground.

I also sent an email to the Public Affairs team to see if this was an accurate representation. It doesn't sound like it was.

On Tue, Aug 11, 2009 at 12:13 AM, Sholtis, Edward T USA LTC USAF COMISAF wrote:
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Caveats: NONE

Jim--I sat in on the interview, and the Journal article overstated Gen

McChrystal's position.  The Commander did not say the Taliban was

winning in his interview, as suggested by the headline.  Asked by the

reporter if the Taliban had the upper hand, he explained that

International Security Assistance Forces are facing an aggressive enemy,

employing complex tactics, that has gained momentum in some parts of

Afghanistan.  During the course of the interview he also observed that

ISAF has had some success in reversing the initiative, and that

insurgents in Afghanistan face their own long-term problems in terms of

public support, group cohesiveness and their ability to sustain morale

and fighting capacity.  There was much more nuance to his analysis than

made it into the Journal article.



Public Affairs Officer for the Commander, ISAF

Headquarters, International Security Assistance Force

Gen. McChrystal is about to deliver a report on the status of our fight in Afghanistan. This will generate considerable discussion about what our efforts should be going forward. We faced a similar situation in 2006 and 2007 as to whether we should "end" the war in Iraq and fortunately we did not. As a result the Surge worked and we have been able to turn more and more control over to the Iraqis.

Afghanistan represents an even tougher challenge, but the stakes involve it's next door neighbor and nuclear weapons. The combined Af-Pak theater is a tremendously difficult mess, but once again we face the choice of ceding control to the extremists, or helping a nascent democracy to grow it's security forces to face the challenge. Let's get this one right as well.

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posted by Uncle Jimbo at 11:41 AM

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