'Civilian Surge' Part of New Afghan Plan

Hundreds of diplomats may be sent along with troops
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Mar 18, 2009 4:52 PM CDT
A US soldier destroys opium poppies growing in a field during a patrol with Afghan police in the Khost province of Afghanistan. The civilian surge would complement efforts by US and NATO troops.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – President Obama’s new Afghanistan policy may include stationing more diplomats and civilians there, officials tell the Washington Post. Obama’s national security advisers are expected to present a plan next week that would send hundreds of government officials from departments like Agriculture and Justice, along with temps yet to be hired, to broaden and complement the Afghanistan-Pakistan war strategy.

The civilian surge would complement military efforts to make Afghanistan secure enough that it’s no longer a launching pad for global terrorism. Tapped to lead the expansion are Peter Galbraith, who would serve as deputy to the top UN official there, and Francis Ricciardone Jr., who would be the US embassy’s deputy ambassador. The proposal indicates that an Afghanistan exit strategy remains years away, an official notes.