Gen. McChrystal: Bin Laden ‘Iconic Figure’ Needs to be ‘Captured or Killed’

December 9, 2009

(ChattahBox)—As Pentagon officials and military leaders in the field of battle in Afghanistan, weight in and try to explain President Obama’s new war plan, the gaps in the surge strategy become apparent. Obama ordered an additional deployment of 30,000 troops sweetened with a promise of a July 2011 withdrawal. But in recent days, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have retreated from the July 2011 time frame, saying any troop withdrawal would be slow.

And despite the stated goal of “disrupting, dismantling and defeating” al-Qaida, the terror group’s leader Osama bin Laden, is thought to be in neighboring Pakistan. But Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted that the US really has no clue to the whereabouts of Bin Laden. And Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of forces in Afghanistan, told Congress that killing Bin Laden is essential to defeating al-Qaida. The picture emerging of Obama’s Afghanistan strategy is becoming murkier and murkier.

Gen. McChrystal told Congress on Tuesday that searching for Osama bin Laden “is outside my mandate.”

But he also acknowledged that bin Laden remains an important figure:

“I believe he is an iconic figure at this point whose survival emboldens al-Qaida as a franchise organization across the world,” McChrystal told the Senate Armed Services committee. “I don’t think we can defeat him until he is captured or killed.”

The reasoning behind the additional troop deployment was one of national security. Military officials believe leaving Afghanistan the way it is now; overrun with Taliban fighters, would provide a safe haven for al-Qaida to launch terror attacks against Americans.

“Rolling back the Taliban is a prerequisite to the ultimate defeat of al-Qaida,” said McChrystal.

To be sure, the situation in Afghanistan is complicated, but it would be reassuring to know for certain, we will not be fighting a war there 10 years from now.

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