Overextended

Data Show Afghan Surge's Problems

Data from the U.S. Army indicate that a surge in Afghanistan of 30,000 to 40,000 troops would mean the deployment of nearly every available brigade, leaving the Army underprepared to react to an emergency situation. As of December 2009, according to the Army, there will be slightly more than 50,000 active-duty soldiers in 14 brigades, plus around 24,000 National Guard soldiers; according to former Pentagon official Lawrence Korb, the scarcity of available troops makes an escalation of 30,000 to 40,000—the number recommended by Afghanistan commander Stanley McChrystal—"not realistic." Some 22,600 troops will see the end of the "dwell time" at home at the beginning of 2010, while around 10,200 leave Afghanistan, meaning that the president could have an additional 12,400 troops at his disposal. Additional problems include the category of brigade available—five of the 14 available brigades are "heavy" brigades that rely on heavy equipment that doesn’t work well in mountainous Afghanistan.