August 10, 2009

Afghanistan: How to Measure the Mission's Success

Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud has been killed in a U.S. drone attack. While it's not the first time reports of his death have surfaced, the Taliban has confirmed his death. Mehsud is known as Pakistan's most wanted man and has been suspected in the killing of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Does his death mean that the U.S. is closer to success in its mission to rout the Taliban out of Afghanistan and Pakistan? As the American military comes to full strength in the Afghan surge, the Obama administration’s national security team is struggling to come up with specific measurements of progress. David Sanger is the chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times, and he's writing about the administration attempt to set benchmarks for success in Afghanistan.

Also joining the conversation is Andrew Exum, a fellow with the Center for a New American Security. He served two tours as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. He is just back from Afghanistan where he was part of a team of independent analysts whose report is expected to help define the U.S. mission in Afghanistan going forward.

We also speak with retired Colonel Paul Hughes, who is senior program officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace. In 2003 he served as the director of the Strategic Policy Office for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. He believes that the fates of the missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan are completely intertwined and must be closely coordinated.