Scouting Report

By Thomas Duffy / June 29, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Gen. David Petraeus, nominated by President Obama to take over as commander of all coalition forces in Afghanistan following last week's resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is testifying this morning before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In answers submitted to the committee before the nomination hearing, Petraeus provides a brief assessment of the enemy he will be facing if he takes over the Afghanistan command:

It is difficult to arrive at quantitative estimates of Taliban manpower. Even though the increase in ISAF ((International Security Assistance Force)) strength in 2010 caused some concern for insurgent leaders, they continue to show an ability to adapt and respond to ISAF changes, and the size and intensity of the insurgency has increased in proportion to ISAF’s expansion. The Taliban’s increasing ability to project its influence in Regional Command-South, Regional Command-Southwest and Regional Command-East and to create instability in Regional Command-West and Regional Command-North indicate the Taliban suffer no shortage of manpower. They likely believe they will be able to maintain their current strength and possibly grow.

Petraeus told the committee that if he is confirmed, he will do his own assessment of the Afghan security forces to judge whether their size needs to be increased. That review will be done within 90 to 120 days, he said.

An assessment of the Afghan forces is being done by the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, Petraeus said. "While the exact numbers needed are still being determined, I am not willing to say that the currently approved strength of 305,600 will prove sufficient," he added.