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Entries in Drawdown (10)

Wednesday
Oct122011

Obama Gets Troop Drawdown Details

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has presented to the White House the drawdown plan for the 10,000 surge troops he ordered out of Afghanistan by year’s end.

Panetta met with President Obama Wednesday for his weekly meeting where “they discussed the drawdown of Afghan troops, including the first tranche of surge troops by the end of this year,” a senior administration official told ABC News.

In June, President Obama announced the phased withdrawal of the 33,000 surge troops he had ordered into Afghanistan in 2009. Ten thousand were to be out by the end of this year and the remaining 23,000 are scheduled to leave by the end of next September.    

Gen. John Allen, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, recently finished drawing up his recommendation for how the first phase of the drawdown plan should take place. It was this plan that was presented to the president Wednesday.

The drawdown actually began in July of this year when two Army National Guard units were not replaced at the end of their deployments. That was in keeping with President Obama’s announcement in 2009 that the U.S. would begin transitioning security to Afghan security forces in July 2011. That process is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014.

That first installment of troops that left in July numbered between 1,500 to 2,000 troops, so it will be the balance of that number that will be out by December.

Most of the troops out by December will be from units that were scheduled to rotate out by that date and are not being replaced, a Defense Department official said.  They will be mostly combat support forces commonly referred to as enablers.  Additional numbers will come from individual augmentees, service members who deploy without being attached to larger units.

Gen. Allen is following a plan to hold onto the troops for as long as he can until the December deadline. It is a similar strategy that he will undertake for the 23,000 troops coming out next year.   

In an interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz last week, Allen said he intends to keep the 23,000 for as long as possible.

“They are going to stay a long time,” he said. “We’ll maintain that number as long as we can.”

Allen believes he will likely request a task force of logisticians that would arrive just before the September 2012 deadline to bring out the remaining troops.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun232011

Obama's Afghanistan Timetable Gets Mixed Reactions

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment(WASHINGTON) -- Moments after President Obama announced a timetable for the withdrawal of 33,000 troops from Afghanistan over the next 15 months, reaction from lawmakers in the House of Representatives streamed in, ranging from high praise from the top of his party’s Congressional leadership, to criticism that the president is pulling out too quickly, but also complaints that he is not bringing troops home quickly enough.

Inside his own party, the president received the highest praise from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who credited the president for “beginning the process of bringing our troops home and ending the war in Afghanistan” and shifting the focus to rebuilding America.

“It has been the hope of many in Congress and across the country that the full drawdown of U.S. forces would happen sooner than the president laid out -- and we will continue to press for a better outcome.  Concluding this war will enable us to reduce the deficit and focus fuller attention on the priorities of the American people: creating jobs and investing in our nation’s future by building a strong, thriving economy for our children,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.

On the other side of the spectrum, although still from within the president's own party, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California said the plan is not nearly aggressive enough.

“This plan withdraws too few troops and takes too long to do it.  We can no longer afford to spend $10 billion a month on a war that is not making us safer at a time when Afghan President Hamid Karzai is calling the United States ‘occupiers,’” Speier said in a statement.  “President Obama should immediately withdraw at least 30,000 troops -- the amount equivalent to the 2009 surge.  The remainder should come home by the end of next year."

Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence committee, said that he was “concerned about the president’s plan to begin troop withdrawal in Afghanistan” and said President Obama made the wrong decision.

The president also caught grief from a good share of freshmen Republicans.

Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-North Carolina, slammed the president for announcing “to the world his intention to set a deadline for withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan.”

“Less than two months ago, American special forces led one of the most successful missions in modern history to kill Osama Bin Laden,” Ellmers stated.  “The success of this mission was due largely to its secrecy.  But now, the same President who oversaw this mission is giving a speech announcing to our enemies and the world our military strategy."

Rep. Randy Hultgren, who is also a freshman, said in a statement that he disagreed with President Obama’s timetable because it “reduces the U.S. presence more quickly than that suggested by his military advisers.”

House Speaker John Boehner, however, said that while he wants to bring our troops home as quickly as possible, “we must ensure that the gains we’ve made are not jeopardized.”

“It’s important that we retain the flexibility necessary to reconsider troop levels and respond to changes in the security environment should circumstances on the ground warrant," Boehner said.  "Congress will hold the Administration accountable for ensuring that the pace and scope of the drawdown does not undermine the progress we’ve made thus far."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun232011

Tim Pawlenty Calls Obama's Afghanistan Plan a 'Grave Mistake'

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- GOP candidate Tim Pawlenty criticized President Obama's decision to bring home 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer as "a grave mistake."

"I thought his speech tonight was deeply concerning," Pawlenty said in an interview with Bill O'Reilly on Fox News Wednesday evening.  "Look how he phrased the outcome of this war: He said we need to end the war 'responsibly.'  When America goes to war, America needs to win.  We need to close out the war successfully, and what that means now is not nation-building.  What it means is to follow General Petraeus' advice and to get those security forces built up to the point where they can pick up the slack as we draw down."

Pawlenty said Obama apparently believes he knows better than Petraeus, who Pawlenty praised as "the smartest, most insightful guy in this debate."

"This decision should be based on conditions on the ground and success, not some vague notions of a responsible wind-down and then jumping over what the real mission is now, which is stabilizing the security of that country," he said.

"To leave now when we're so close to a successful completion...I think is a grave mistake," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun222011

Boehner on Afghanistan: Big Pullout Could Jeopardize Success

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As President Obama prepares to speak to the nation Wednesday in a primetime address on Afghanistan, House Speaker John Boehner says that while he is "concerned about any precipitous withdrawal of our troops that would jeopardize the success that we've made," he would support the president's judgment as long as he follows recommendations from commanders and diplomats in the region.

Asked whether he sensed that House Republicans were growing wary of the mission in Afghanistan, the speaker said that the sentiment of lawmakers "on both sides of the aisle reflect the opinions and attitudes of their constituents."

"The American people are a bit wary about Afghanistan, and you can't blame them," Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "You have 100,000 of our young men and women fighting in this desert over there, but remember why we're there. We're there because the Taliban had taken over Afghanistan, they had provided safe haven to al-Qaeda, and as a result, al-Qaeda had safe ground in which to plan, train, and execute attacks on Americans and our allies around the world."

"The goal here is to make sure that they don't have that safe haven, and so we've got some work to do, but clearly the success that General Petraeus outlined is in fact a success. We're getting there, but we've got an awful lot invested here, and I'm concerned about any precipitous withdrawal of our troops that would jeopardize the success that we've made," he added. "If the president listens to the commanders on the ground, and our diplomats in the region, makes a decision, I'll be there to support him. Success in Afghanistan is critically important."

Boehner added that he has not been briefed by the White House on the president's plans to reduce troop levels.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun222011

Obama Navigates Math, Politics with Afghan Troop Withdrawal

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- When President Obama was contemplating a new Afghan war strategy in late 2009, he faced sharp divisions within his own administration between those recommending 40,000 or more troops and a full counterinsurgency and those advocating half as many and a focus on counterterrorism.

He chose a middle road: 30,000 troops and a mix of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, or COIN, in the military lingo.

Now, he's facing a similar disagreement as he announces Wednesday night the timetable for ending the so-called Afghan surge -- this time between those supporting a modest reduction of 5,000 to 10,000 troops before the year's end and those pushing for deeper cuts.  He might again risk pleasing neither side.

The pace and scope of the withdrawal has sparked controversy between the administration and the military, which has warned against pulling out too fast.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is set to retire at the end of the month, warned earlier this month that it would be premature to make any significant changes to the military campaign in Afghanistan.  Gates had noted in March that the gains in Afghanistan "are fragile and reversible."

On the other side, Obama faces a war-weary public.  According to the latest ABC News polling, 73 percent of Americans say the United States should withdraw a substantial number of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan this summer.  Yet far fewer, 43 percent, think that will happen.

Americans also question the long-term impact of America's presence in Afghanistan. Fifty-seven percent say the war has contributed to the long-term security of the United States.  But far fewer, 25 percent, say it has contributed "a great deal," which is the kind of payback many want to see, given the war's steep price tag. The United States has spent roughly $112 billion in Afghanistan this year alone.

With Congress mired in ongoing debt negotiations and the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt limit looming, lawmakers are urging the president to focus America's resources at home instead.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun212011

John McCain Admonishes Jon Huntsman on War Stance

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Arizona Sen. John McCain offered some blunt advice Tuesday to Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and other critics of continued U.S. military involvement in Libya and Afghanistan.

"I hope that all of these candidates as the campaign goes on understands what our national security requirements are, that we are the world's leader, America has to lead, as we are not leading in Libya, which is one reason why that conflict, third rate military, has not been concluded," McCain told ABC News.

"I hope that they will learn and listen to people like Gen. David Petraeus and others, who has the highest not only respect and admiration but a record of success," he said.

Huntsman has said "we just can't afford" participation in the NATO operation in Libya, and he's raised concerns about prolonged involvement in Afghanistan, where he says, "we're wasting our money and we're wasting our strategic resources."

McCain wouldn't directly say whether Huntsman's views should disqualify him from getting the party's presidential nomination.

With President Obama poised to announce a reduction of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beginning next month, McCain said he agrees with Defense Secretary Robert Gates that a "modest withdrawal" is "important."

But he added that he would be "very reluctant to reduce the surge troops capability," referring to the more than 30,000 troops President Obama ordered sent to Afghanistan in 2009 to help stem the violence there.

"I believe that one more fighting season and we can get this thing pretty much wrapped up,"” McCain said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun132011

Sen. Bob Corker Says War in Afghanistan 'Not Sustainable'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In another sign of growing bipartisan concern about American involvement in Afghanistan, one Republican Senator on the Foreign Relations Committee says the war is "unsustainable."

"I think all of us who have been in Afghanistan on the ground multiple times know that what we're doing there on the ground is just not sustainable," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told ABC News.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates has suggested the troop withdrawals scheduled to begin this summer should be "modest," but Corker joins others in Congress who are looking for a significant draw down of American involvement in Afghanistan by the end of the year -- including scaling back what he called the U.S. "nation-building effort" in Afghanistan.

"We've got this huge nation-building effort under way [and] I think if our citizens saw our footprint in Afghanistan, saw what was happening there from the stand point of all the things we're investing in in this country, the distortions in its culture -- we've got to change our footprint," Corker said.  "This is not a model that we can replicate in other Middle Eastern countries."

In his interview with ABC News, Corker also weighed in on the debate over raising the debt ceiling.  While it has been raised almost 100 times since it was established in 1917, this time some Republicans are saying it should not be raised again.  But as the nation's debt inches closer to the current limit of $14.3 trillion, Corker says raising it is not a matter of if, but of when.

"The debt ceiling at some point has to be raised," Corker said.  "I don't think there's anybody that questions the fact that if we ended up getting in a situation where the U.S. government was sending out IOUs like the state of California did at one point, that ends up creating quite a brand problem for our country."

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling was exceeded in April, but accounting maneuvers (like halting contributions to pension funds) will finance U.S. financial obligations through Aug. 2.  Like many of his Republican colleagues, Corker questioned Geithner's timing on a debt ceiling breach.

"We don't know what the date is," Corker said. "I mean any smart treasury secretary would not say three months out Aug. 2 is the deadline. I don't know what the date is. It might be Aug. 2, it might be Aug. 15, it might be Sept. 20. Who knows?"

Corker and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., recently introduced the Commitment to Prosperity (CAP) Act, legislation that gradually enacts a cap on federal spending.  The proposal would limit federal spending at 20.6 percent of the gross domestic product -- the typical level for the past 40 years.  The current level is 24.7 percent.  According to Corker, that would result in spending reductions of $7.6 trillion over the next decade.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar182011

Gen. Petraeus Reveals Son Fought in Afghanistan

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Overshadowed in the congressional testimony given by Gen. David Petraeus this week was a small, personal bombshell the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan dropped on lawmakers.

With members of a House Armed Services Committee pressing the general on just how long U.S. forces will serve in the war, Petraeus let it be known that his son, Stephen, had recently wrapped up a combat tour in Afghanistan as an infantry platoon leader.

Lt. Stephen Petraeus is currently a member of Alpha Company, 3rd Platoon, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

The reality was revealed when Republican Rep. Walter B. Jones of North Carolina speculated that American forces may stay in Afghanistan well past the 2014 deadline to hand over security responsibilities to Afghan forces, adding, "You know, 15, 16, 17 years, for God sakes, how much more can we take, how much more can we give treasure and blood?"

Petraeus then talked about his son and his personal stake in making sure the U.S. achieves victory.  He also said he would be honest with the president and Pentagon leaders "if I ever felt that we couldn't achieve our objectives."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar172011

Kucinich Demands Withdrawal of US Troops in Afghanistan by Year's End

US Department of Defense(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Dennis Kucinich has been an outspoken opponent of the war in Afghanistan since the outset of military operations in October 2001.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives will once again debate his resolution to pull troops out of Afghanistan.

H. Con. Res. 28 calls for President Obama to remove troops from Afghanistan within 30 days of adoption, or if the president determines such a rapid withdrawal would jeopardize the safety of U.S. troops, then delay the withdrawal to no later than the end of the year.

“This is an effort to get us out of Afghanistan no later than the end of the year,” Kucinich, D-Ohio, told ABC News Thursday morning.  “Most American people know that this war isn’t worth fighting for, that we should have been gone a long time ago, that the cost of it at $100 billion a year, and the cost of lives to our troops, the deaths of innocent civilians, all of this makes this war dangerous, risky, a waste of time, a waste of money.”

Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States' plan to begin withdrawing troops in July of 2011 is still on schedule.  But the pace of withdrawal is expected to be gradual, with some troops remaining to train and assist the Afghan military after the final pullout planned for the end of 2014.  Currently there are about 97,000 American troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

Kucinich, a two-time presidential candidate for the Democratic nomination, unleashed on President Obama’s policy in Afghanistan, criticizing the president’s strategy to slowly withdraw troops, even though the Pentagon is set to begin decreasing troop levels this summer.

“We’re there, number one.  That’s the first thing that’s wrong.  We shouldn’t be there,” Kucinich said.  “The second thing that’s wrong is we’ve stayed too long.  The third thing that’s wrong, we’re spending $100 billion a year; the fourth thing that is wrong is the counter-insurgency strategy, which is almost an oxymoron.  The minute that you’re there occupying, the occupation fuels an insurgency.  So who are these geniuses that are keeping us there in Afghanistan while our troops bear the brunt of this disaster with more fatalities, more injuries, and also there’s more civilians who are being killed.”

Kucinich has repeatedly brought similar resolutions to pull troops from Afghanistan to the floor in the past.  Even under Democratic control, the resolution has never passed.  Last year, the resolution was defeated 356-to-65.  Just five Republicans, and 60 Democrats backed the effort.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan262011

Obama: Troops Will Begin Coming Home from Afghanistan in July 2011

Photo Courtesy - The White House/ Chuck Kennedy(WASHINGTON) -- In his State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated his promise to begin a troops drawdown from Afghanistan this July.

“This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead.  And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home,” he said Tuesday night to loud applause.

The president also praised U.S. troops and civilians for reclaiming Taliban strongholds and training Afghan Security Forces, and claimed that “fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency,” and that al Qaeda’s safe-havens in Pakistan “are shrinking.”

“We have sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: we will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you,” he said.

However, at the same time he warned that there would be “tough fighting ahead” for troops and civilians in Afghanistan, and that the Afghan government would need to “deliver better governance.”

“But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them,” he said.

President Obama devoted most of his State of the Union address to jobs, the economy, and rebuilding the country’s infrastructure.  Mention of Afghanistan came approximately 48 minutes into his speech.

The president also restated the mission in Afghanistan: “Our purpose is clear -- by preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people, we will deny al Qaeda the safe haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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