Pullback Planned to Major Cities

Has Afghanistan replaced health care as the Obama administration’s most pressing issue? The day after the leak of his urgent request for more troops, top U.S. commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal has told his commanders to pull troops out of sparsely populated and dangerous rural areas and to focus on protecting major population centers. The change is in line with Gen. McChrystal’s assessment, which urges the U.S. and NATO to “initially focus on critical high-population areas that are contested or controlled by insurgents.” His new strategy focuses on protecting civilians and strengthening the Afghan government and its security forces.