Death toll to change war tactics?

September 2, 2009 4:32:32 AM PDT
As the death toll of American forces grows in Afghanistan, the commander of US and NATO forces is calling for a change in strategy in how the war is fought.General Stanley McChrystal said the focus should be on protecting civilian lives and containing the Taliban along the Pakistani border and that may include more local troops.

By the end of the year, nearly half the troops stationed at Fort Bragg will be deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Those deployments were scheduled before General McChrystal's new report on the fight in Afghanistan.

The general's change in strategy could mean thousands of additional Fort Bragg troops may be headed to Afghanistan.

Randi Wechsler's husband is a Fort Bragg soldier who recently returned from the front lines. She said she believed American forces can improve the quality of life for the people of the war torn country.

"I think we definitely make a difference," Wechsler said. "A war we can win? That depends on your point of view."

General McChrystal said he believed the US could win the war. But he said a new strategy is needed to fight the Taliban that may include additional troops -many of whom would probably come from Fort Bragg.

"We prepare," former soldier Joy Stewart said. "We do everything mentally and physically to prepare for it and we just do what we have to do as a family. We pull together and support who (left) behind."

Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, a former Fort Bragg commander, was recently in charge of all military forces in Iraq. His new Pentagon job has him focusing on the fight in Afghanistan as well.

He said while the terrain and people in Afghanistan are different, the fundamentals of war fighting in the region are the same.

"One of those fundamentals is protecting the people," Austin said. "You've heard General McChrystal and others talk about the importance that. And so you've seen some things that they've done recently to limit the civilian casualties and those types of things. And I think those types of things will pay dividends over time."

The general said the Taliban can fight in an area, disappear and return after US forces are gone.

Experts said the war has to focus on disrupting Taliban training and operation. It also needs to make sure terrorists aren't able to pull off another 9/11 type attack in the United States.

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