The Pentagon will add up to 14,000 combat troops to its Afghanistan force, replacing noncombatant support units with more "trigger-pullers" as casualties continue to climb. With support for the war waning, the Defense Department's "force optimization" plan will not increase the number of US troops, and may even lead Gen. Stanley McChrystal to ask for a smaller top-up in the future. Many of the noncombatant roles will likely be filled by Afghans or controversial private contractors.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, the Pentagon believes that the military bureaucracy in Afghanistan needs to be recalibrated after eight years of war. Reliance on contractors such as Blackwater in Iraq led to massive outcry over excessive violence. In Afghanistan, the situation might not be much better; a watchdog group said yesterday that private security guards at the US embassy in Kabul are nurturing what the paper calls "a Lord of the Flies environment."