We must send more than troops to Afghanistan

December 22, 2009

President Obama is right to commit more troops to Afghanistan ("'Our security at stake,' Obama declares, ordering 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan," Dec. 1). Now is no time for half-measures if we want to succeed in routing the Taliban and denying the terrorists there a safe training ground.

But sending more troops is not enough; we also need to provide them with the next-generation technology that will help them find the insurgents and beat them on their home turf. Today, most troops are still using legacy radios, vehicles and technology that are holdovers from the Cold War, which can't give soldiers a birds-eye view of the battlefield and can't share information.

That's why the Pentagon needs to fast-track Army modernization efforts, especially new networking and communications technologies that taxpayers have already spent billions bringing to the brink of completion. In particular, the Pentagon needs to move forward on the network the Army was developing as part of the now-canceled Future Combat Systems program. While this program had a number of challenges, the next generation network that was part of it is desperately needed.

Here at home, we're rightly concerned that every school be hooked up to broadband Internet. We need to make a similar effort for our troops; after all, in Afghanistan, information is a matter of life and death, victory and defeat.George Autobee, Washington

The writer is director of government affairs of the American GI Forum of the United States.

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