McChrystal: Obama's Afghanistan strategy will be 'successful'

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, on Tuesday gave a strong endorsement to President Barack Obama's new Afghanistan strategy.

"I believe we will absolutely be successful," McChrystal told the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. 

“The president’s decision rapidly resources our strategy, recognizes that the next 18 months will likely be decisive, and ultimately, enables success,” McChrystal said in prepared testimony for a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan strategy.

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McChrystal pleaded with lawmakers for continued commitment and support for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. He stressed that the next 18 months are critical and said that he did not expect to ask for additional forces at the end of next year, or thereafter.

McChrystal said, however, that he would do constant assessments of the situation in Afghanistan.
 
"I will have the responsibility to give my best military advice," McChrystal stressed. “By the summer of 2011, it will be clear to the Afghan people that the insurgency will not win, giving them the chance to side with their government.”

Obama last week announced that he would increase the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan by 30,000 and that by July 2011, U.S. forces will begin withdrawing from the country as Afghan security forces take over the mission.

“By the summer of 2011, it will be clear to the Afghan people that the insurgency will not win, giving them the chance to side with their government,” McChrystal said.  “From that point forward, while we begin to reduce U.S. combat force levels, we will remain partnered with the Afghan security forces in a supporting role to consolidate and solidify their gains.”

McChrystal said he did not make any recommendations to the president with respect to the July 2011 timeline. At the same time, McChrystal stressed that he does not view July 2011 as a "deadline."

"I do not believe that is a deadline at all," he said adding that the pace and scope of any U.S. drawdown will be decided based on conditions on the ground at the time.

“This means we must reverse the Taliban’s current momentum and create the time and space to develop Afghan security and governance capacity,” McChrystal added.

U.S. and international forces face a “complex and resilient insurgency,” McChrystal said. “The Quetta Shura Taliban, or Afghan Taliban, is the prominent threat to the government of Afghanistan, as they aspire to once again become the government of Afghanistan,” McChrystal explained. The Haqqani and Hezbe Islami Gulbuddin insurgent groups have more limited geographical reach and objectives, “but they are no less lethal,” McChrystal explained to the panel.

“All three groups are supported to some degree by external elements in Iran and Pakistan, have ties with al Qaeda and coexist within narcotics and criminal networks, both fueling and feeding off instability and insecurity in the region,” McChrystal said in his prepared testimony.

McChrystal said that Afghans are “frustrated” with international efforts that have failed to meet their expectations. That has created a “crisis of confidence” among Afghans, who view the international effort “as insufficient” and their government as “corrupt or, at the very least, inconsequential.”

But the Afghans do not regard the U.S. forces as occupiers, according to the general.

“They do not wish for us to remain forever, yet they see our support as a necessary bridge to future security and stability,” McChrystal said.

-- This article was updated at 10:53 a.m.