Vice President Joe Biden and other US officials have long been advocating for America to end its troop-intensive counterinsurgency strategy of winning hearts and minds, and instead opt for a “counterterrorism” strategy, scaling back the number of soldiers on the ground and concentrating on promptly striking terrorist cells when they crop up. The bin Laden raid has now become their Exhibit A.
The "Biden" view, however, still has its share of opponents. The notion of a smaller, more flexible military relying on special forces strikes was tried – and failed – in Iraq before the surge, they say. To abandon the Afghan surge now, when it is beginning to show some signs of progress, would be to ignore the lessons of Iraq, they add.
In 2009, the Pentagon and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton ultimately prevailed in convincing President Obama that a surge of US troops was needed in Afghanistan, with 100,000 currently fighting throughout the country today. But the bin Laden operation has now given critics of that approach fresh momentum.
“I hope the killing of bin Laden signals the chapter of our military being extended in that part of the world will end, and we will conclude that actionable intelligence and clandestine operations will allow us to deal with our enemies effectively,” says Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) of Ohio, a member of the Defense Appropriations Committee.