(PORTSMOUTH, OHIO) While John McCain has vociferously supported the surge strategy in Iraq, he has been less vocal about the ongoing war in Afghanistan. He called on NATO and other allies of the U.S. to send more troops today, but stopped short of advocating additional American soldiers be deployed to the region until he spoke with commanders on the ground.
"I would like to have our allies make a bigger commitment, both in personnel and other ways," he said. "I'd like to hear from our military leaders, our chairman of the joint chiefs, as well as the military commanders there."
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs hasn't been shy about asking for help. The current chairman, Admiral Michael Mullen, recently said he has immediate need for three more brigades in Afghanistan, which would amount to roughly 11,000 troops. General Egon Ramms, the German head of Allied Joint Force Command, has said European countries should provide an additional 5,000 to 6,000 troops.
There are currently 55,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, of which 30,000 are American. The bulk of the remaining troops come from Britain, Canada, France, and the Netherlands, which leaves 19 other NATO countries that either have very few troops serving in the region or none at all.
McCain's rival, Barack Obama, has made sending additional troops to Afghanistan one of the cornerstones of his foreign policy.
"It's time to refocus our attention on the war we have to win in Afghanistan," Obama said last week. "It is time to go after the al Qaeda leadership where it actually exists."
There are other considerations that need to be taken into account, according to McCain, such as the political situations along the Afghan/Pakistan border and the "effectiveness" of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
"It isn't just increased troop presence that's necessary," McCain said. "We need to address the issue in a broad variety of areas:"