Drones V. Taliban

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THE PLANK JULY 30, 2009

Drones V. Taliban

LAT's Julian Barnes, in Kabul, with an important story:

U.S. military leaders have concluded that their war effort in
Afghanistan has been too focused on hunting Al Qaeda, and have begun to
shift Predator drone aircraft to the fight against the Taliban and
other militants in order to prevent the country from slipping deeper
into anarchy.The move, described by government and Defense
Department officials, represents a major change in the military's use
of one of its most precious intelligence assets. It also illustrates
the hard choices that must be made because the drones are in short
supply.

Senior government officials say that defeating Al Qaeda remains the
overriding U.S. objective. However, they have determined that the best
way to do that is by strengthening and stabilizing Afghanistan and
neighboring Pakistan, rather than endlessly looking for important Al
Qaeda figures.

But our drone fleet is smaller than we want it to be, and to meet the increased need, Barnes says, the military is poaching some Predators from Iraq, to the displeasure of the generals there. A reminder that those conflicts remain something of a zero-sum resource game for the U.S.  

--Michael Crowley

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