Giuliani: Double Troops in Afghanistan
By Howard Kurtz
WOLFEBORO, N.H. -- Rudy Giuliani, trying to reframe the campaign debate on terrorism, today called for doubling the number of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
Without criticizing president Bush's conduct of the war, Giuliani said; "We need to begin a surge in Afghanistan and make it effective right now." He said he knows the military is stretched thin because of the Iraq war but that the addition of 10 Army combat divisions would accommodate the additional burden.
An expanded military would not be "historically out of line" with the 550,000 troops who served in Vietnam or the 350,000 in Korea, Giuliani said. He did not mention that the country had a draft during those conflicts or address the cost of military expansion.
In an interview, Giuliani declined to describe the Afghanistan war effort as faltering, saying he wants to make sure "we don't lose ground" against a reemergence of al-Qaeda and the Taliban and that more troops might help stabilize Pakistan as well. Giuliani later told reporters that Army recruitment efforts could be boosted to produce the additional 10,000 troops needed and that his "surge" might have to be gradual.
Speaking at a World War II museum here before posters saying "Buy War Bonds" and "Save Rubber," the former New York mayor cast the war on terror as a generational challenge not unlike the battle against Nazi Germany and Japan. He talked about being struck by the comparison on the day of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Giuliani also talked about beefing up intelligence operations against terrorists -- while acknowledging that he didn't know what the CIA was doing in that regard -- along with improved operations to win "hearts and minds" in the Muslim world.
Former FBI director Louis Freeh, who worked as a federal prosecutor alongside Giuliani, said he had "a bird's-eye view of his leadership and his integrity....He was one of the best U.S. attorneys in the 200-year history of that office" in Manhattan. Freeh, a Clinton appointee who is traveling with Giuliani today, said he has never endorsed a candidate before.
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