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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Oaths and Afghanistan Policy

Bob Woodward reports on the deliberations behind the president's policy in Afghanistan. He notes that Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provided only limited options to the White House:
The only distinctly new alternative offered to Obama came from outside the military hierarchy. Vice President (Joe) Biden had long and loudly argued against the military's 40,000-troop request. He worked with Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to develop a "hybrid option" -- combining elements of other plans -- that called for only 20,000 additional troops. It would have a more limited mission of hunting down the Taliban insurgents and training the Afghan police and army to take over.

When Mullen learned of the hybrid option, he didn't want to take it to Obama. "We're not providing that," he told Cartwright, a Marine known around the White House as Obama's favorite general.

Cartwright objected. "I'm just not in the business of withholding options," he told Mullen. "I have an oath, and when asked for advice I'm going to provide it." [emphasis added]