WASHINGTON – The United States should focus on training and equipping Afghanistan's security forces as it weighs what troop levels are needed to fight the war there, Democratic Senator Carl Levin said Monday.
Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that he agreed with the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, that "additional resources will be required."
"My recommendation is that in filling those resource requirements, we should emphasize expanding the size and capability of the Afghan army and national police," said the senator.
Levin said the United States should also provide Afghan forces with the intelligence and "many more trainers" they need as well as step up cooperation between local and US troops.
He also called for "a crash program to better equip Afghan forces," including shifting equipment now in Iraq to Afghanistan rather than bringing it home.
"We must also speed the adoption of a 'Sons of Iraq' approach to peel low- and mid-level Afghan fighters away from the insurgency and re-integrate them into Afghan society," he said, referring to a campaign in Iraq's Anbar province to woo local fighters to the US side.
But Levin emphasized that the United States needed a new approach to the conflict and should decide on whether to send more troops to meet the needs of a fresh strategy rather than decide now on whether to send more soldiers.
"Focusing on the resource question before we accomplish the strategic shift is a mistake General McChrystal is wisely avoiding," he said after the Washington Post obtained, and partially published, the general's classified report to Obama on the situation in Afghanistan.
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