News / USA

Petraeus: Obama Afghanistan Troop Reduction 'Aggressive'

General David Petraeus during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on his nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency, June 23, 2011
General David Petraeus during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on his nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency, June 23, 2011
Michael Bowman

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan says President Barack Obama’s timetable for withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan is more “aggressive” than he and other military officers had counseled, but achievable without undue risks to U.S. objectives. General David Petraeus, Obama’s pick to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, spoke at his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill.

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee quickly turned to military matters at Thursday’s hearing, one day after President Obama announced a gradual drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Senators were eager to probe the thoughts of the man who oversaw America’s troop surge in Afghanistan, launched 18 months ago.

Petraeus said the president opted for a more-rapid reduction in force strength than he and other commanders had suggested, but added that it was his prerogative to do so.

“That [Obama’s decision] is understandable in the sense that there are broader considerations beyond those of a military commander," said Petraeus. "There has never been a military commander in history who has had all the forces he would like to have.”

The general said the transition from U.S. to Afghan security forces has already begun in some parts of the country.

“We are taking out 33,000 U.S. forces over the course of a 15-month period," he said. "During that time, there will be some 70,000 additional Afghan forces added.”

Petraeus was lauded by senators of both parties. Independent Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut introduced the general to the committee, noting Petraeus has held top command posts in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

“He is a true American hero who has twice been called upon by our commander-in-chief to assume leadership of a faltering war effort. And twice he led our forces out of the jaws of defeat, on to the path to victory.”

If confirmed, Petraeus would shift from the military to the civilian branch of America’s national security apparatus," said Lieberman. "Historically, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies like the CIA have worked closely together. But analysts say the branches feature different work cultures and mindsets, and operate in distinct manners.

Committee Chairwoman, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein expressed confidence Petraeus will make a successful transition to the CIA.

“He has been the commander for a portion of the world where intelligence operations play a key role," said  Feinstein. "And he is especially aware of the coordination between military special operations and intelligence covert actions. So he comes to this nomination with a deep familiarity with the intelligence community and the CIA in particular.”

Petraeus admitted his views about current conflicts were formulated during military service. But he pledged that, as CIA director, he would always present the agency’s position and assessments to the president.

The ranking Republican on the committee, Senator Saxby Chambliss, seemed to speak of Petraeus’ confirmation as CIA director as a foregone conclusion.

“I am asked quite often what I think should happen in Afghanistan," said Chambliss. "And my first response is, ‘well, whatever General Petraeus says, that is the direction we ought to go.’ I look forward to a continued close relationship as you assume the duties at the CIA.”

Petraeus would succeed departing CIA Director Leon Panetta, who was confirmed unanimously by the Senate as America’s next secretary of defense. Like Panetta, Petraeus is expected to receive overwhelming support when the full Senate votes on his nomination.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid