The Pentagon will send a one-star general to Afghanistan this fall as part of a politically parlous but determined effort by the US to assume greater control in the country's troubled southern sector.
It's a small change to the complex command structure blamed for an ineffective counterinsurgency strategy that allowed the Taliban to stage a comeback.
These changes amount to, essentially, re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
We have around 47,000 troops on the ground, between the US and NATO.
In an a web article (http://www.atlargely.com/2008/06/400000-troops-n.html)published in June of this year, the following was reported:
"ISAF Commander McNeill has said himself that according to the current counterterrorism doctrine, it would take 400,000 troops to pacify Afghanistan in the long term. But the reality is that he has only 47,000 soldiers under his command, together with another 18,000 troops fighting at their sides as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, and possibly another 75,000 reasonably well-trained soldiers in the Afghan army by the end of the year. All told, there is still a shortfall of 260,000 men."
You do the math.
The fact that the intensity of the use of air attacks has increased greatly is an indication that US and NATO have very little control on the ground outside of Kabul, and our options are limited.
We can continue to bomb the heck out of the country, declare victory, and come home.
We can stop bombing the heck out of the country, declare victory, and go home.
Or we can involve the Taliban in the political process, declare victory, and go home.
Of course, that would be logical, and ....well, this administration's relationship with logic is conspicuous by its absence.
The continued air assaults by the US and NATO guarantee two things.
First, we're going to kill a lot more non-combatants; women, children, the elderly, and the medically infirm.
Second, those left standing, who think members of the Karzai government are so crooked they have to screw their socks on in the morning, will be even more radicalized against it.