NPR logo Top U.S. General, Envoy In Afghanistan Defend Surge

Top U.S. General, Envoy In Afghanistan Defend Surge

U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal (l) and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry share a laugh before testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee about the new war strategy. Chip Somodevilla/AP Photo hide caption

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Chip Somodevilla/AP Photo

The Obama Administration's top officials in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the senior U.S. military commander, and U.S. ambassador Karl Eikenberry, visited Capitol Hill Tuesday to explain from their perspective the new strategy of surging U.S. combat forces to neutralize the Taliban, stabilizing the Afghan government and starting a withdrawal of U.S. forces in July 2011.

As expected, both McChrystal and Eikenberry praised the new strategy and said they believed it would accomplish U.S. goals.

Looking ahead, I'm confident we have both the right strategy andthe right resources. Every trip around Afghanistan reinforces my confidence in the coalition and Afghan forces we stand alongside in this effort. But I also find confidence in those we are trying to help. That confidence is found where an Afghan farmer chooses to harvest wheat rather than poppy, or where a young adult casts his or her vote or joins the police, or where a group of villagers resolves to reject the local insurgency.

We face many challenges in Afghanistan, but our efforts sustain by one unassailable reality: neither the Afghan people nor the international community want Afghanistan to remain a sanctuary for terror and violence.

Meanwhile Eikenberry, a former general and the U.S' chief envoy in Afghanistan, made sure to leave the impression he had no differences with the new strategy.

Before the new approach was announced, secret cables by Eikenberry were leaked which revealed that his position that additional U.S. troops not be sent to Afghanistan unless the government of President Hamid Karzai reformed itself to become more credible to the Afghan people. But Eikenberry said he was on board now.

EIKENBERRY: As a result of this very extensive review, the mission was refined, the ways forward were clarified and the resources now have been committed to allow us to achieve the refined mission. With that, at this point in time, as I said in my opening statement, Mr. Chairman, I am unequivocally in support of this mission, and I am exactly aligned with General McChrystal here to my right in moving forward now to vigorously implement the assigned mission.

But as was true last week when members of the president's cabinet testified about the new strategy on Capitol Hill, some lawmakers demonstrated much skepticism about the refined approach.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Maryland Democrat, said:

I read an article this morning, I think it was from TheWashington Post, that was talking about an Afghan with one eye and a beard to his chest. And he had aligned himself with the national
government and with our presence there. And he acknowledged that if the Taliban came back to power, they were going to cut his head off.

It that is the general perception of Afghans, isn't it going to be kind of difficult to get them to align themselves with the federal government and with us?