Slobodan Lekic has an AP story about the number of allied troops and security forces in Afghanistan outnumbering the Taliban 12 to 1. In his words, "it hasn't led to anything close to victory." Really? By what definition? I may be off, but I thought the intent of the mission in Afghanistan was to oust the Taliban from their rule in Afghanistan (check), deny them and Al-Qaeda a safe harbor in Afghanistan from which to conduct operations (check), establish a democratic process for the election of a representative government by Afghans (check), and raise and train an Afghan security force (a 200,000-strong Afghan security force has been raised and is still undergoing years of training - check).
What, exactly, does Mr. Lekic have in mind when he uses the term "victory?" You'd have to ask him, because I'm stupefied by that opening statement. The remainder of the article does contain some useful facts and figures, so it may merit a read. And its closing, coincidentally, contains the figure of 600,000 as a potential correct number for an adequate security force in the country, given its population of 32 million (which is what any force should be based on with a security operation, as opposed to the number of insurgents operating within the population, which cannot be known, and which was used in the calculation of his 12-1 outnumbering ratio).
Readers of this site may recall that I had cited 600,000 as the number of U.S. forces sent to Iraq for the first Persian Gulf War in 1991, and that our current 68,000 troop level is woefully low for the task at hand - if, in fact, we want to be there at all, which I am still not convinced is the right action for these circumstances. But if we are to be engaged there in a military capacity, then a number on the order of several hundred thousand allied forces above and beyond the 200,000 Afghan security forces is what we ought to be deploying, with a presence to last at least 10 more years and probably longer.