Finding the Right Mix

As the Pentagon continues the drawdown of 23,000 troops from Afghanistan by summer’s end, senior leaders will have to work extra hard to ensure they have the right mix of personnel still on the ground there, said Maj. Gen. Tod Wolters, former commander of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan. Simultaneously executing the war and seamlessly removing US forces remains one of the biggest challenges for Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, top US and coalition commander in Afghanistan, said Wolters during an Aug. 14 talk sponsored by AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies in Arlington, Va. Since June, Wolters has been in charge of the legislative liaison office in Air Force headquarters. He acknowledged that there is “a lot of planning going on” within DOD and the State Department about what the remaining force structure would look like in Afghanistan after the planned 2014 withdrawal deadline for all combat forces. However, he said he’s not sure what those numbers would be. “I think we’re drawing on lessons from other conflicts. I think they are taking into account coalition capability” as well as enemy capability and “progress on the ground,” said Wolters.