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Strategist tips troop movements -

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ELEANOR HALL: As we just heard, Australia's Foreign Minister says he has received a copy of the
report written by the top US commander in Afghanistan calling for a troop increase.

But Stephen Smith made it clear he is not looking at any immediate change in Australian troop
numbers.

However an Australian strategist says that despite the political reluctance now, leaders in the US
and allied countries will end up sending more troops to Afghanistan within the year.

Raspal Khosa is a research fellow with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and I spoke to him
a short time ago.

Raspal Khosa do you agree with Stanley McChrystal's assessment that a big troop increase is
required in Afghanistan and soon?

RASPAL KHOSA: Yes it was always anticipated that his review would end with a request for more
troops and moreover increasing the size of the Afghan national army.

But at the moment the Afghan national army and police are in no position to take on the Taliban. So
what is required in the interim is a sizeable coalition increase in force size.

ELEANOR HALL: What real difference would 10,000 more soldiers make?

RASPAL KHOSA: Well numbers have also ranged up to 45,000.

The strategy that McChrystal is employing is classic counter-insurgency and that is a more
ground-centric approach, more boats on the ground.

Actually after you've done the "shape and clear", to do "the hold" and later on "the build" it
requires many more troops.

The Taliban of course is moving aggressively into areas that were previously considered safe, and
the insurgency is burgeoning and expansive, and a lot worse than McChrystal thought it was when he
took command.

There are not enough troops to actually stop the Taliban momentum and to seize the initiative.

ELEANOR HALL: Now President Obama indicated only yesterday that he was not inclined to send more
troops and certainly not immediately, and nor was he inclined to radically change the Afghanistan
strategy.

He presumably would already have this report from his top commander when he said this. How do you
read that?

RASPAL KHOSA: There's a struggle going on within the administration. I mean, Vice President Biden
is someone that's inclined to put a ceiling on troop numbers, the 68,000 by the end of the year.

Opinion polls have turned in the United States recently.

There are a lot of very nervous Democratic congressmen looking at the mid-term elections, with
regards to whether sending additional forces is going to make a real difference.

ELEANOR HALL: And are they influential enough to stop the General having his way?

RASPAL KHOSA: I think the General will get his way.

I can't see the President completely disregarding the strategic appraisal of the ISAF commander,
who is also the commander of US forces, General McChrystal.

So I would think there would be an increase in troop numbers. And this of course has the
implications for Allies like Australia.

ELEANOR HALL: Well we've just heard from Australia's Foreign Minister that he's had no request to
increase Australia's commitment and does to expect to receive one soon.

But should Australia be sending more troops?

RASPAL KHOSA: The Government would certainly have made some sort of contingency plans. Where we
operate, our national focus is Uruzgan Province, where we're supporting a Dutch Taskforce.

The Dutch, of course, are pulling out next year, so that may well require an Australian troop
increase.

We are mentoring a couple of units within that brigade. It would make good sense if the ADF mentors
the entire brigade. That would require more Australian personnel.

ELEANOR HALL: And yet the Prime Minister made it fairly clear yesterday that he wasn't inclined to
increase Australia's troop commitment.

RASPAL KHOSA: That's the position of the PM from what I understand, yes.

ELEANOR HALL: But you don't agree with it?

RASPAL KHOSA: Australia will come under strong pressure.

If there is a very large troop increase, well in excess of the 10,000 extra coalition forces, we
would be under pressure as a major middle-power ally of the United States.

ELEANOR HALL: But as you say, we've got the President of the United States, we've got Australia's
Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, and we've got increasing numbers of analysts and players in
the UK and in Europe saying they really don't have an inclination to put more troops into
Afghanistan.

And yet you're suggesting that that will somehow happen. Where's the political will?

RASPAL KHOSA: I think it will be expected in the end that there will be some sort of troop
increase.

ELEANOR HALL: And General McChrystal says this next 12 months in Afghanistan is critical. Do you
agree?

RASPAL KHOSA: I do agree with that, but that's been said before. You know, that was said about
2009, that this was the critical year.

It's obviously the year when the presidential elections were held and that is part of the problem.

If you're going to effect a military strategy, a proper counter-insurgency strategy you need to
have a legitimate government, and what we saw during the elections is not really conducive to that
effort, is actually undermines the military effort.

ELEANOR HALL: Yes, how worrying is it that there has been so much corruption exposed during this
election process?

RASPAL KHOSA: Look it's industrial-scale fraud is how it's been described.

That is extremely worrying. A lot of allied states within NATO would be thinking: "Why are we
sending our young men off to die, if we're supporting a thoroughly corrupt regime."

ELEANOR HALL: It does sound as though things are pulling in two different directions in
Afghanistan, that, because there's problems with progress of things like democracy and the
confidence in the government, there's not so much of an inclination to send more troops and
resources.

And yet you're saying that's exactly what's required.

RASPAL KHOSA: Well it gets down to whether this fight is worth it. These issues really need to be
sold much better to domestic polities and that's just not being down very well.

You've got Gordon Brown saying that, you know, it's about terrorist attacks on British streets. I
mean that's an element of it but what you're fighting is an insurgency.

ELEANOR HALL: Do you think the Australian Government is doing a good enough job in selling the
reason for Australians being there?

RASPAL KHOSA: Kevin Rudd has stated two reasons: he's been honest and said it is about the
alliance. It's also about terrorism but terrorism that affects Australians is much more close at
hand.

It's ... you know the killing of Noordin Top has probably had a greater impact in protecting
Australians from terrorist attacks than perhaps what's going on in the borderlands of Afghanistan
and Pakistan.

ELEANOR HALL: So is it worth Australians being there?

RASPAL KHOSA: It is worth us being there. We are supporting our alliance partner. We are a part of
the broad West. It is vital that our troops are there, yes.

ELEANOR HALL: Raspal Khosa thanks very much for joining us.

RASPAL KHOSA: My pleasure.

ELEANOR HALL: And Raspal Khosa is from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.