As troops depart, U.S. may drop Afghan counterinsurgency mission

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That’s because, “in a counterinsurgency, firepower is manpower,” Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told the House Armed Services Committee last Thursday.

Obama administration and Pentagon officials have said in the wake of Obama’s announcement that the counterinsurgency approach -- of which counterterrorism is a part -- continues to be the basis of the mission there.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) asked Obama’s pick to be the next U.S. commander in Afghanistan whether he believes the military will have to “shift to a counterterrorism (C.T.) model or can you blend the two strategies?”

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Allen said that a mix of tactics already is occurring. If confirmed by the committee and the full Senate, he will get a fourth star and become the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

“We would see that there will continue to be a counterterrorism dimension to the overarching counterinsurgency campaign,” Allen told the panel. “And as time passes, as conditions in the battle space evolve, as we approach 2014, and as we define our long-term relationship with Afghanistan, we may well see that the development of C.T. will become even more important as time goes on.”