ABC News' Ann Compton reports: Just back from Afghanistan as a bold new military offensive gets underway, National Security Advisor James Jones sounds confident about President Obama's surge strategy.
"The pieces are there and over the next two months we will see what develops," he told ABC News in an exclusive interview in his West Wing office. 17,000 additional combat troops are arriving this month, and 4,000 additional trainers will be in by next month.
But Jones also warned US commanders on the ground in Afghanistan, that’s it for now on additional troops. He reminded them they agreed on the current strategy and called it “odd” to change the plans by asking for more troops now, before the strategy has time to work.
He confirmed an incident first reported in the Washington Post by reporter Bob Woodward who accompanied Jones to the region last week. Jones told commanders a troops request now would bring a “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” moment in the West Wing. Those are the military alphabet letters spelling out a profane exclamation of disbelief. Jones tells ABC News the commanders must use the current 60-day assessment underway in Afghanistan to decide if they are satisfied with their “tooth to tail ratio” of forces on the ground.
The National Security Advisor also tells ABC News he sees US troops in Iraq on a “glide-scope” to withdraw on the 2011 timetable set by President Obama, but Jones concedes there could be “speedbumps” ahead that require adjustments.
Jones sounds convinced Iraqi forces, trained by the US, will be able to cope with expected violence as the US forces step back from urban areas of Iraq this week. “Opponents will test them, ” Jones warned. “ If they have the will, and we think they do, and they have the training and we know we have given them that,and they really care about their own country and their own future, they will be successful.”