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We need to recommit to Afghanistan

We're often told in the newspaper industry to stick to local issues and avoid national or international ones. This may be breaking that rule, but the war in Afghanistan is a local issue. We've had many local soldiers deploy there, and their sacrifice should lead to a successful conclusion.

President Obama has been slow to commit to a strategy in Afghanistan, and that's a mistake. This much we know: if we leave now, the Taliban will take control there again, and al Qaida training camps wouldn't be far behind. We'll end up back in Afghanistan whether we like it or not, so we might as well finish the job while we have boots on the ground there.

But what is "finishing the job"? How can we define success?

1. Capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Though he's likely hiding on the Pakistan side of the border, we can't leave the region until we get him. We can't leave the Sept. 11 attacks unavenged. We've come too far.

2. Stabilize the region by protecting its people, and give them time and the means to drive out the Taliban themselves.

3. Pursue a clear-hold-build strategy that was successful as part of the surge in Iraq. Use it to establish ties with the locals and gain their trust and cooperation.

4. Be ready to leave in a planned, orderly way.

Can we do all of this with existing troop levels? Almost certainly not. It will be difficult to ask our military men and women to sacrifice more when they've already given so much, but we need to cross the finish line, and we'll need one more push from them.

It's better we "surge" in Afghanistan and finish the task than just go along with minimum troop levels for as far as the eye can see.

We owe it to our local soldiers to buck up and get the resolve to finish this job.

This week's editorial was written by Steve Schulz, the Pioneer Journal's editor and publisher.