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General McChrystal: Kandahar Operation Will Take Longer


General McChrystal: Kandahar operation will take longer
By Craig Whitlock | Washington Post

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is finding himself squeezed between a ticking clock and an enemy that won't go away.

On Thursday, during a visit to NATO headquarters here, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal admitted that preparations for perhaps the most critical operation of the war -- the campaign to take control of Kandahar, the Taliban's birthplace -- weren't going as planned. He said winning support from local leaders, some of whom see the Taliban fighters not as oppressors but as their Muslim brothers, was proving tougher than expected. The military side of the campaign, originally scheduled to surge in June and finish by August, is now likely to extend into the fall.

"I don't intend to hurry it," McChrystal told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. "It will take a number of months for this to play out. But I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. It's more important we get it right than we get it fast."

But McChrystal does not have time on his side. The day before he revealed the Kandahar delay, his boss, Gates, said that the U.S.-led coalition has until the end of the year to show progress in the war and prove to the United States and its allies that their forces have broken a stalemate with the Taliban.

"All of us, for our publics, are going to have to show by the end of the year that our strategy is on the right track and making some headway," Gates said Wednesday during a visit to London to meet with British leaders. Read more.

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