July 15, 2008 4:10 PM
McCain Unveils Afghan Strategy, Levels Attack on Obama
From CBS News' John Bentley
(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) John McCain outlined his most comprehensive plan yet for the war in Afghanistan today, advocating more troops being sent to the region and hammering Barack Obama for his criticism of the U.S. strategy in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Sen. Obama will tell you we can't win in Afghanistan without losing in Iraq," McCain said at a town hall here. "In fact, he has it exactly backwards. It is precisely the success of the surge in Iraq that shows us the way to succeed in Afghanistan."
Obama countered by saying McCain's support of the Iraq war has hampered U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.
"Sen. McCain said – just months ago – that 'Afghanistan is not in trouble because of our diversion to Iraq.' I could not disagree more," Obama said today. "I have argued for years that we lack the resources to finish the job because of our commitment to Iraq." He added that he would send at least two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan, and make fighting the Taliban a priority.
McCain explained that the counterinsurgency tactics and principles used in Iraq can be applied to Afghanistan. He also advocated working with the local populations and civilians in the government to create a comprehensive plan to fight the Taliban.
"Our commanders on the ground in Afghanistan say that they need at least three additional brigades. Thanks to the success of the surge, these forces are becoming available, and our commanders in Afghanistan must get them. But sending more forces, by itself, is not enough to prevail," he said. "What we need in Afghanistan is exactly what Gen. Petraeus brought to Iraq: a nationwide civil-military campaign plan that is focused on providing security for the population. Today no such integrated plan exists. When I am commander-in-chief, it will."
He also called on the Afghan army to double in size, from 80,000 troops to 160,000. But he said he was concerned about the rampant corruption in the Afghan government, and had little confidence in President Hamid Karzai.
"Karzai has not been effective," McCain told reporters after the town hall. "Karzai has not been as strong a leader as we hoped he would be."