Despite pressure, McChrystal to hold firm on request for troops

Gen. Stanley McChrystal said he will not back down from his request for additional troops in Afghanistan, even in the face of political pressure.

Speaking on CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday night, the new U.S. commander in Afghanistan said the pressure to not request more troops will have no affect on his actions going forward.
 

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“Doesn’t affect me at all, and I take this extraordinarily seriously,” McChrystal said in the interview, which was taped a month ago. “I believe that what I am responsible to do is to give my best assessment.”
 
McChrystal’s recent report -- delivered to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen on Friday and asking for 40,000 more troops -- is a hot-button issue on Capitol Hill, with Democrats hitting the Sunday talk show circuit earlier in the day and saying that the administration should weigh McChrystal’s request very carefully. President Barack Obama has been resistant to the idea of adding troops in Afghanistan.

"I think the president is correct to take his time, to really examine what the alternatives are at this time," Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said, echoing fellow senator and former Navy Secretary Jim Webb (D-Va.).


Obama authorized 21,000 additional troops for Afghanistan as soon as he came into office in January and the last from that order are still deploying to the region.

McChrystal deflected when asked whether he thought he would get what he is asking for from Washington.

“I’m confident that I will have an absolute chance to provide my assessment and to make my recommendations,” he said.

McChrystal also stated that he had only spoken to Obama once in 70 days since taking over as commander in the eight-year-old war.

He said the United States often hasn’t done what it should have during those eight years, and he is trying to change the culture of the U.S. presence in the country as the Taliban rebounds. That includes cracking down on aggressive driving by U.S. convoys and asking soldiers to take on additional risks in the name of protecting Afghan citizens.

“There’s an awful lot of bad habits we’ve got to deprogram,” McChrystal said.

He said time is of the essence in a war that experts say has become more difficult than Iraq, and that progress needs to be made fast.

He has been blunt about the prospect of failure, and he said he will be honest if and when that prospect becomes a reality.

“We could do good thing in Afghanistan for the next 100 years and fail,” he said, “because we’re doing a lot of good things, and it just doesn’t add up to success.”

-- This story was updated at 9:57 a.m.