Friday, September 11, 2009

Senate Armed Services Chairman: No More U.S. Troops to Afghanistan

"The debate whether to send more combat troops to Afghanistan took a twist reminiscent of the Iraq conflict when the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Friday advised not sending any more U.S. combat troops to Afghanistan beyond those already approved by President Obama until more Afghan security forces are trained.

Speaking on the eighth anniversary of the date the United States was attacked by terrorists trained in Afghanistan, Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., also called for a shift in U.S. efforts toward more trainers, who could, in part, be supplied by NATO allies. He said he would like a plan for Afghanistan that would replicate the "Sons of Iraq" strategy to separate low and mid-level Taliban fighters in Afghanistan from the leadership of that terrorist group.

Levin added that more equipment could be moved from Iraq to Afghanistan as U.S. efforts wind down in Iraq.

"In order to succeed in Afghanistan we need a surge of Afghan forces," Levin said, adding that "we have not done nearly enough."

If the shift is not made, "I think it's less likely we'll succeed in Afghanistan," he said.

Republicans immediately described Levin's remarks as the same sound of surrender by Democrats during the dark days of the Iraq war.

"Many of the Democrats raising questions about our efforts in Afghanistan are the same voices who declared General Petraeus a failure in Iraq before his new strategy even had a chance to succeed. They were wrong then. They are wrong now," said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services panel, said he "could not disagree more profoundly" with Levin on the call to limit troop deployments.

"If we await the day when the Afghan National Army is increased in size and capable of carrying out all of these operations fully on its own, it may well be too late," McCain warned."

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