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Afghan war needs 'major' shift: McCain

US Senator John McCain on Tuesday welcomed President Barack Obama's decision to send more troops to fight in Afghanistan, but warned that winning the war required a complete strategic overhaul.

world Updated: Feb 18, 2009 21:27 IST

US Senator John McCain on Tuesday welcomed President Barack Obama's decision to send more troops to fight in Afghanistan, but warned that winning the war required a complete strategic overhaul.

"While I welcome today's announcement, I hope it is just the first step in a new comprehensive approach to Afghanistan. A major change in course is long overdue," the Republican lawmaker from Arizona said in a statement.

McCain's comments came after Obama, who defeated him in the November 2008 elections, said he has approved the deployment of thousands more troops to Afghanistan "to stabilize a deteriorating situation."

The senator said conditions in Afghanistan had "deteriorated for several years" and was now "dire," especially in the southern part of the country, and that more US troops "can make a significant difference."

"More troops alone, however, will not lead to success there," said McCain, who called on Obama to "spell out for the American people what he believes victory in Afghanistan will look like and articulate a coherent strategy for achieving it."

"There still exists no integrated civil-military plan for this war -- more than seven years after we began military operations. Such a strategy should spell out the way forward, including the additional resource requirements for its execution," said McCain.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid welcomed Obama's announcement, highlighting the need to "address threats to American national security from Al Qaeda and related extremist groups based along the Afghan-Pakistan border."

"We must redouble our efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. I support President Obama's approval of a request from the ground commanders for more troops. I also strongly support the comprehensive strategic review of our policy that is currently underway," Reid said in a statement.