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

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid