COMISAF’s Initial Assessment (redacted version)
Ref: no reference
Dated August 30, released Sept. 21, 2009
66 pages in PDF format
This document is the unclassified report from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, to US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates regarding the situation in Afghanistan.
The frank and mostly gloomy assessment is still officially secret, but the Washington Post published an unclassified version, which it says has only a few deletions requested by the government, on its website.
The report says there is an urgent need for more foreign troops and civilians, more Afghan forces and a new strategic approach to reverse Taliban gains.
In the document, the general says "success is not ensured by additional forces alone, but continued under-resourcing will likely cause failure."
He writes the U.S. and NATO effort has long been "under-resourced," and that must change within 12 months or the coalition "risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible." He says a lack of even the "minimum" resources is "a recipe for failure" in a counterinsurgency," and the Taliban and related groups have made significant gains in recent years as a result.
In the document, the general is sharply critical of NATO forces, saying they are "poorly configured" to fight an insurgency. He says if NATO countries continue to be "pre-occupied" with protecting their forces rather than protecting the people and accomplishing the mission, they "run the risk of strategic defeat." He says the coalition must operate "dramatically differently -- even uncomfortably differently."
In the report, General McChrystal concludes that "while the situation is serious, success is still achievable." But he says the effort needs "a fundamentally new approach" that is "properly resourced and supported" throughout the coalition and across military and civilian agencies.
The report is hosted on the Washington Post website. The Post states that “some operational details removed at the Pentagon’s request to avoid compromising future operations.”