McCain Revises Plan to Send Three U.S. Brigades to Afghanistan in Favor of NATO Forces
By Juliet Eilperin
ALBUQUERQUE -- In an interview with reporters aboard his campaign bus, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) modified his assertion today that the U.S. could send three additional brigades to Afghanistan by drawing on troops that were leaving Iraq.
The presumptive GOP nominee, who made his initial remarks in a speech before an Albuquerque audience, told reporters just minutes after the event that he might call on NATO to supply part of the additional troops he hopes to send to the region.
"We need to work that out, we need to have greater participation from our NATO allies, and we need a lot more help from our NATO allies," the senator said. "We need to -- I laid it out in my speech, we need to have strategy, not just an injection of troops. I think that's true of all counterinsurgencies."
Our NATO allies, he added, can provide manpower as well as other resources to help assure victory in Afghanistan.
"I think we need to work with our allies to get increased materiel, command structure reform, assistance in the form of personnel," he said, adding some of these personnel can conduct the kind of "civil military kind of work that we ware doing in Iraq where we are restoring goods and services to the people. There are many areas where our NATO allies can help us, that's one of them."
McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace said later that U.S. troops will compose some of the additional brigades McCain would send to Afghanistan, but not all of them. "Will we contribute? Of course we will," she said.
When reporters noted that both Obama and McCain are putting a renewed emphasis on Afghanistan, McCain dismissed his Democratic opponent as having "no strategy."
"He's just said we need more troops. There is a dramatic difference. He's never been to Afghanistan, he's never been briefed on Afghanistan personally by the commanders," he said, adding that Obama has oversight over NATO operations through the subcommittee he chairs on Foreign Relations. "He's never had a hearing. He's never had a hearing. So I am not surprised that all he has done is said, 'Well, we need more troops.'"
The most "critical" difference between the two candidates, McCain said, is Obama's belief that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are disconnected.
"If we fail in Iraq, it would have meant enormous encouragement to the Taliban in Afghanistan and other anti-American elements and jihadists throughout the region. And so to say, we could have let Iraq fail, as Senator Obama said, Harry Reid announced all is lost, that would have had a devastating effect in my view on our reliability in the region, that the willingness of our allies to cooperate with us in Afghanistan, and so they are connected," he said. "In life and warfare, failure breeds failure, success breeds success. That is just a lesson of history, and Senator Obama obviously does not understand those lessons."
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