Several print outlets noted that McCain proposed sending three brigades of troops to Afghanistan, but not that McCain's tally would reportedly include NATO forces

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Wall Street Journal reported that Sen. John McCain, in the words of the Journal, "said he would send at least three additional brigades to Afghanistan." But none noted that McCain reportedly stated following his speech that his proposal to deploy three additional brigades to Afghanistan would require "greater participation on the part of our NATO allies," or that McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace reportedly said the three brigades he mentioned would include non-American troops.

July 16 articles by The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reported that during a July 15 speech in New Mexico, Sen. John McCain, in the words of the Journal, "said he would send at least three additional brigades to Afghanistan." But none of those print outlets noted that McCain reportedly stated following his speech that his proposal to deploy three additional brigades to Afghanistan would require "greater participation on the part of our NATO allies," or that McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace reportedly said the three brigades he mentioned would include non-American troops.

During his speech, McCain asserted: "Our commanders on the ground in Afghanistan say that they need at least three additional brigades. Thanks to the success of the surge, these forces are becoming available, and our commanders in Afghanistan must get them." In a July 16 article, The Boston Globe reported that "[t]he wording of McCain's speech implied that all of the new forces would be US troops." Yet, in a July 15 post on the NBC News blog First Read, NBC/National Journal reporter Adam Aigner-Treworgy and NBC deputy political director Mark Murray reported that when asked following his speech whether the three brigades he proposed deploying to Afghanistan would include NATO forces, McCain reportedly replied: "We need to work that out. We need to have greater participation on the part of our NATO allies, as I said in my opening remarks today and we need a lot more help." Aigner-Treworgy and Murray also reported that during a conference call that day, McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann said, "Sen. McCain is looking for an additional three [brigades], some of which may come from NATO, some could be the US." From the July 15 First Read post:

[W]hile speaking to reporters on his bus after this morning's town hall, McCain would not commit to whether those additional brigades would definitely be American ones. When asked if the three brigades would come from the United States or NATO, McCain said: "We need to work that out. We need to have greater participation on the part of our NATO allies, as I said in my opening remarks today and we need a lot more help."

Later, McCain added that he planned to press the members of NATO for "increased materiel" and "assistance in the form of personnel," as well as assistance centralizing the military command structure in the region and performing "civil military kind of work" that has worked in Iraq. He then reiterated that additional combat troops are just another area where NATO could help.

"There are many areas where our NATO allies can help us," McCain said. "That's one of them."

On a conference call today, in response to a question on where the troops to Afghanistan would come from, McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann said, according to a transcript of the call: "The most immediate way to make those troops available is to ask our NATO allies to step up to the plate and send more troops. When Sen. McCain is sworn in as president, if he wins this election, it will be different rotational schedule and additional brigades will be available. We have 53 brigades or brigade equivalents in the Army and Marine Corps right now. Eighteen are deployed. Sen. McCain is looking for an additional three, some of which may come from NATO, some could be the US."

When First Read asked a senior McCain official what would happen if NATO allies decided not to contribute to an Afghanistan surge, the official replied that McCain "preferred to get as many as possible from NATO allies." But if US commanders needed three brigades, and the only troops he could send were American ones, then he'd send three American brigades, the officials said.

In addition, in a July 15 entry on the The Washington Post blog The Trail, Post staff writer Juliet Eilperin reported that McCain "told reporters just minutes after the event that he might call on NATO to supply part of the additional troops he hopes to send to the region," and that Wallace "said later that U.S. troops will compose some of the additional brigades McCain would send to Afghanistan, but not all of them." From Eilperin's July 15 post on The Trail:

In an interview with reporters aboard his campaign bus, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) modified his assertion today that the U.S. could send three additional brigades to Afghanistan by drawing on troops that were leaving Iraq.

The presumptive GOP nominee, who made his initial remarks in a speech before an Albuquerque audience, told reporters just minutes after the event that he might call on NATO to supply part of the additional troops he hopes to send to the region.

"We need to work that out, we need to have greater participation from our NATO allies, and we need a lot more help from our NATO allies," the senator said. "We need to -- I laid it out in my speech, we need to have strategy, not just an injection of troops. I think that's true of all counterinsurgencies."

Our NATO allies, he added, can provide manpower as well as other resources to help assure victory in Afghanistan.

"I think we need to work with our allies to get increased materiel, command structure reform, assistance in the form of personnel," he said, adding some of these personnel can conduct the kind of "civil military kind of work that we ware doing in Iraq where we are restoring goods and services to the people. There are many areas where our NATO allies can help us, that's one of them."

McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace said later that U.S. troops will compose some of the additional brigades McCain would send to Afghanistan, but not all of them. "Will we contribute? Of course we will," she said.

Los Angeles Times staff writers Peter Nicholas and Robin Abcarian reported that Obama "repeated his call for two more combat brigades in Afghanistan to counteract 'deteriorating' conditions," while McCain "upped the ante Tuesday, pledging three more brigades." Journal staff writers Amy Chozick and Jay Solomon reported that "Sen. McCain said he would send at least three additional brigades to Afghanistan." New York Times staff writers John M. Broder and Larry Rohter reported that McCain "advocated the deployment of an additional three brigades, or about 15,000 troops." Inquirer senior writer Larry Eichel reported that McCain "called for sending three more brigades there about 10,000 troops." None of those reports noted McCain or his campaign's subsequent statements asserting that a portion of the three brigades he proposed sending to Afghanistan would at least likely be partially composed of NATO troops.

From the New York Times article:

Mr. McCain said that both Iraq and Afghanistan were important battlegrounds and that the United States had the ability to fight in both places as long as it retained the will to do so. But on Tuesday, after saying for months that no additional forces were needed in Afghanistan, Mr. McCain changed course and advocated the deployment of an additional three brigades, or about 15,000 troops.

[...]

In a series of interviews, statements, advertisements and speeches over the past week, Mr. Obama has been laying out a broad vision of America's role in the world in an Obama presidency. He has spoken of reducing American combat forces in Iraq and adding as many as 10,000 troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He has emphasized the application of so-called soft power, the use of diplomacy and economic aid, over the use of force. And he said that as president he would try to mend alliances that have frayed in the seven years of the Bush-Cheney administration.

From the Los Angeles Times article:

As the Iraq war winds down, Obama said, he wants to see troops redirected to Afghanistan. He said the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda was a war "we have to win" and repeated his call for two more combat brigades in Afghanistan to counteract "deteriorating" conditions.

John McCain, Obama's rival, upped the ante Tuesday, pledging three more brigades as part of a broader plan to "turn around the war." It is the first time the Arizona senator has been specific, but he has previously called for an increase in NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The war in Afghanistan has recently turned more deadly than the one in Iraq. On Sunday, nine American soldiers were killed in a brazen insurgent attack on an outpost, the largest number of U.S. deaths in a single incident in Afghanistan since June 2005.

From the Wall Street Journal article:

Both presidential hopefuls said they would boost resources to fight al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Sen. Obama said he would add at least two additional combat brigades in Afghanistan and $1 billion in annual nonmilitary assistance. Sen. McCain said he would send at least three additional brigades to Afghanistan and strengthen local tribes in border areas in Pakistan that are willing to fight foreign terrorists.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer article:

On Afghanistan, McCain had the more detailed proposals. It was the focus of his remarks yesterday.

He called for sending three more brigades there about 10,000 troops; for expanding the U.S. troop presence in the southern part of the country, the Taliban heartland; for creating a single supreme commander of allied forces; for establishing a czar for Afghanistan issues within the White House; and for doubling the size of the Afghan army to 160,000 troops.

Obama was less specific, addressing the subject as one part of a broad foreign-policy speech. He did say he would send at least two additional combat brigades to the country, about 7,000 troops, and seek additional troop commitments from other NATO countries.

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