KABUL -- Our Fox News' "War Stories" team is cleaning our gear and packing up to go home. The special operations teams that "hosted" us for a half-dozen carefully planned and executed raids against the Taliban have showered us with patches, "challenge coins" and mementos accumulated since we arrived last month. We even got to shower ourselves. While on operations, we've shot hours of videotape of their backs and legs and on their bases and taken hundreds of photos with their cameras because we're not allowed to show most of their faces.
On our last night "in country," we sat down with them in their operations center to review the footage we had shot to ensure that whatever we put on the air in the days ahead will neither jeopardize allied lives nor divulge forthcoming operations. While we were scanning through the "tapes," one of our hosts informed us that The Washington Post had published a slightly redacted version of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's 66-page classified "assessment" on where we are headed in Afghanistan.
The Post's breathless lead: "McChrystal: More Forces or 'Mission Failure': Top U.S. Commander For Afghan War Calls Next 12 Months Decisive." The article continues, "The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict 'will likely result in failure.'"
Within hours of the assessment's being published, the camp was buzzing with speculation that if Gen. McChrystal does not receive the troops and resources he needs, he will resign. It was a rumor that the popular general quickly quashed, but the very fact that it spread so quickly indicates how uncertain things are here in the shadows of the Hindu Kush.
Much of the growing ambivalence here in Afghanistan is the consequence of last month's deeply flawed presidential elections -- and a significant spike in U.S. casualties. Nobody here seems to believe that the Aug. 20 ballot was a fair contest, and most observers appear to view the government of Hamid Karzai as hopelessly corrupt. The jump in U.S. casualties -- mostly caused by sending coalition forces into areas that have been Taliban safe havens -- is irrefutable. Unfortunately, the White House is broadcasting mixed signals that aid and abet the Taliban hope that the U.S. and our allies simply will go away and leave the country to them.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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