Marshall wants Obama to heed general’s advice

U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., is urging the Obama administration to accept the recommendations of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, on a dramatic troop increase in the country. Marshall is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and visited Afghanistan on a congressional delegation this month.

“I hope the administration will listen to Gen. McChrystal’s advice,” Marshall said Friday evening during an interview from his Macon home. According to multiple published reports, McChrystal has asked the Obama administration for as many as 40,000 additional troops in Afghanistan.

McChrystal recently submitted a dire report to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that warned if American troop levels aren’t increased, the war in Afghanistan “will likely result in failure.” A heavily redacted version of the McChrystal report was leaked to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post last week.

“I hope he’s excessively pessimistic,” Marshall said, while conceding that “what’s public (in the report) is pretty thorough and accurate.”

In an interview with “60 Minutes,” McChrystal told CBS correspondent David Martin that his troops are adopting the strategy of protecting Afghan villagers from the Taliban, even at the risk of increased American casualties. The strategy is largely in line with the 2007 “surge” in Iraq.

“The greatest risk we can accept is to lose the support of the people here,” McChrystal said.

Marshall said that currently American troops “for the most part with exception ... are not out in the population.” He is urging the Obama administration to press ahead with the military’s counterinsurgency strategy, while deploying forces in the short term where success is likely, in order to bolster declining American public support for the war.

“I just don’t think the American people need to see a lot of deaths,” Marshall said. “We need to see some successes.”

To contact writer Thomas L. Day, call 744-4489.