Among other things:
...administration officials changed their chief objective from trying to eliminate the Taliban to making sure insurgents could no longer threaten the Afghan government's survival
It was determined that we simply could NOT 'eliminate the Taliban,' which makes sense.
But the more telling moment was this one.
McChrystal had argued that the worsening situation in Afghanistan could be turned around only by a full commitment to protecting the Afghan people and building up the government, with massive new U.S. resources over many years. But he had still not had the opportunity to formally explain his position to those taking part in the review.
His chance came at an Oct. 8 meeting of Obama's principal advisers, presided over by Jones -- the "dress rehearsal" for a full-scale National Security Council gathering the president would hold the next day. Speaking by video link from Kabul, McChrystal began with the policy underlying his approach, established by the White House review, hastily compiled in February, that led to Obama's March 27 strategy announcement and the deployment of nearly 22,000 new troops through the spring and summer.
In June, McChrystal noted, he had arrived in Afghanistan and set about fulfilling his assignment. His lean face, hovering on the screen at the end of the table, was replaced by a mission statement on a slide: "Defeat the Taliban. Secure the Population."
"Is that really what you think your mission is?" one of those in the Situation Room asked.
On the face of it, it was impossible -- the Taliban were part of the fabric of the Pashtun belt of southern Afghanistan, culturally if not ideologically supported by a significant part of the population. "We don't need to do that," Gates said, according to a participant. "That's an open-ended, forever commitment."
But that was precisely his mission, McChrystal responded, and it was enshrined in the Strategic Implementation Plan -- the execution orders for the March strategy, written by the NSC staff.Doh.