News / Asia

US Military Warns Against Hasty Afghan Withdrawal

Lieutenant General David Rodriguez (file photo)
Lieutenant General David Rodriguez (file photo)
Meredith Buel

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce the size of an American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, within the next few weeks.  U.S. military leaders are warning the reduction must not jeopardize the progress made in securing the country over the past year.

The top coalition commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, is expected to soon present troop withdrawal options to the White House.  

In December of 2009, President Barack Obama announced U.S. forces will begin to pull out of Afghanistan in July of this year.  He also authorized the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops to combat the insurgency, bringing the total number of American soldiers in Afghanistan to 100,000.

Military officials say the surge has led to substantial progress in security in former Taliban strongholds. But Pentagon officials say these gains are fragile and reversible. They warn that any withdrawal should be gradual and based on security conditions on the ground.

Lieutenant General David Rodriguez is deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
“I am concerned about a drawdown that is not totally aligned with growing Afghan capabilities or is so rapid that the army and police make mistakes or temporarily leave gaps," said General Rodriguez. "Now if this happens the Taliban can regain their foothold among a fearful population.”

General Rodriguez says more than 284,000 Afghan security forces have been trained throughout the country, a 50 percent increase since 2009.

The training of Afghan forces is instrumental to the transition, with the security control of seven Afghan cities and provinces to be transferred from foreign to local forces within weeks.

“We have got to push our Afghan partners to start leading more and more.  We have to start taking more risks in this regard and having more trust in them," he said.

While international troops work to build up Afghan forces, the violence has not waned.  The Taliban has launched a campaign of attacks and intimidation that General Rodriguez says is aimed at destroying Afghans' confidence in their government’s ability to protect them.

“We are going to have to really focus our efforts with our Afghan partners to prevent these horrific attacks from ever changing the confidence and trust that the Afghan people have increasingly grown in areas where we focused," said Rodriguez.

The United States and NATO say they hope to have all international combat troops out of Afghanistan by 2014, with Afghan forces in control of security for the entire country.

But analysts say the allies have not been clear about regional goals after 2014, which they say concerns Afghanistan’s neighbors, especially Pakistan.

Retired Lieutenant General David Barno served in Afghanistan and is currently a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

He says a force of between 25,000 to 35,000 American soldiers should be kept in Afghanistan after 2014 to fight al-Qaida and possibly remnants of the Taliban.

“The United States needs a long term, small military presence in this part of the world," said David Barno. "That sends an unmistakable message that we are going to remain committed.”

Another consideration for the White House is the cost of the Afghan war, currently more than $100 billion per year.

Given the difficult state of the U.S. economy and the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, some members of Congress are calling for an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Analyst David Barno:

“I think we are going to have to find a way in the next 3.5 years to take our vast aid spigot of dollars and nick that down without collapsing the Afghan economy and helping to design something that gets to what some are calling 'Afghan good enough'," he said.

U.S. military officials expect Afghan leaders to decide in August which additional regions in the country can be shifted from allied to Afghan security control.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More