WASHINGTON -- The U.S. general put in charge of turning around the war in Afghanistan is likely to recommend significant changes in the campaign and may include a request for more U.S. forces that the White House is expected to resist.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal's long-awaited reassessment of the war against Taliban insurgents aims for a transformation of the shaky relationship between U.S. forces and Afghan civilians as troops press a counterinsurgency strategy of clearing and holding populated areas, said officials apprised of the report's contents.
The biggest change urged in McChrystal's report is a "cultural shift" in how U.S. and foreign troops operate - ranging from how they live and travel among the Afghan population to where and how they fight, a senior military official in Kabul said Friday.
The latest draft of the assessment also urges speeding up the training of Afghan soldiers and police and nearly doubling their numbers to roughly 400,000, said a senior defense official in Washington, one of several uniformed and civilian officials who spoke on condition anonymity because the report has not been made public..
As McChrystal readies the assessment of the war, due in two weeks, numerous U.S. officials and outsiders aware of his thinking suggest that he will request in a companion report that more American troops, probably including marines, be added next year.
Several people familiar with the work being done cautioned that McChrystal could opt not to ask for an increase at all - a recognition that President Barack Obama and other White House advisers would not look favorably on adding new numbers to U.S. forces after already agreeing to boost their ranks by 21,000 troops earlier this year.
The main recommendations for change stem from the military's new counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, which is now designed to focus less on going after Taliban strongholds and more on protecting the local population. .................