Military experts agree that more troops are required to carry out an effective counterinsurgency campaign, but they also caution that the reinforcements are unlikely to lead to the sort of rapid turnaround that the so-called troop surge in Iraq produced after its start in 2007.
After seven years of war, Afghanistan presents a unique set of problems: a rural-based insurgency, an enemy sanctuary in neighboring Pakistan, the chronic weakness of the Afghan government, a thriving narcotics trade, poorly developed infrastructure, and forbidding terrain.
So what now, President-elect Obama? It appears that more troops will be on their way to Afghanistan, but with the additional troops will come some more problems. The troops must be used in the correct fashion and, undoubtedly, many of them have never been to Afghanistan (e.g. the Marines). There will be a learning curve and with it, unfortunately, more casualties. Can an Obama administration withstand criticism from his own party for such an increase in casualties? Can an Obama administration withstand the long war? We will soon see... For all of his faults, President Bush never budged when it came to casualty count criticism.
As stated on numerous occasions, I feel the key to Afghanistan is the opium trade that props up the Afghan narcostate. Links between President Hamid Karzai's brother and the opium trade have been speculated for quite some time. In sum, the key to Afghanistan is the tribe and the key to the tribe is making tribes prosperous without the opium trade. President-elect Obama must quickly sound the call to serve and beef up PRTs with agricultural experts and not rely on the military as much as the Bush administration has done.