Daily Video

June 3, 2009

New Army Leader Takes Up Fight in Afghanistan

As the U.S. plans to increase its number of soldiers in Afghanistan this summer to nearly 70,000, a new Army general has been nominated to lead the fight in Afghanistan. Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal comes to the job with experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. He led the Joint Special Operations Command, a special forces unit that performs secret missions.

His units successfully captured Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and killed al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi but he has been criticized for his unit’s intelligence-gathering operations and treatment of Iraqis.

McChrystal stressed that the war was winnable in Afghanistan but success depended on continuing to minimize civilian casualties and increasing local support for the Afghan government; the general said it is critical to make progress in Afghanistan in the next 18 to 24 months.

Quotes

“There is no simple answer. We must conduct a holistic counterinsurgency campaign, and we must do it well. Success will not be quick or easy. Casualties will likely increase. We will make mistakes.” Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal

“A lot of what happened today made it clear to me that Democrats and Republicans had both decided, “He’s our guy in Afghanistan,” maybe because General David Petraeus highly recommended him and, if he wants him, they think it’s a good idea.” David Corn, journalist

Warm Up Questions

1. Who is the current commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan?

2. Why is the U.S. fighting a war in Afghanistan?

Discussion Questions

1. What do you think of General McChrystal? What did this report reveal about him?

2. Is the controversy surrounding the general and the Silver Star important to you? Why or why not?

3. Why do you think it is so important to General McChrystal to minimize civilian deaths in Afghanistan? Is it important to you?

4. Why is the war in Afghanistan so difficult?

Additional Resources

Afghanistan and the War on Terror

Interactive Afghanistan Map

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