U.S.

March 15, 2013

U.S. House chairman for more troops in Afghanistan

U.S. military leaders and the American ambassador favor a residual force of 13,600 in Afghanistan after combat troops leave at the end of 2014, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said March 13 as President Barack Obama faces political and military pressures on his upcoming decision on the size of the force.

A day after wrapping up his third trip to Afghanistan, Rep. Howard “Buck/” McKeon, a Republican, said a U.S. force of 13,600 combined with coalition troops of some 6,000 would be “the one that has the least risk going forward.” McKeon said he met with Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top commander in Afghanistan, during the trip and he favors a residual force of that size as does Ambassador James Cunningham.

“I think we dropped the ball on Iraq,” McKeon said in an interview with a small group of reporters. “I don’t want to see that happen in Afghanistan.”

Obama is expected to announce in the coming weeks the size of the U.S. force after combat troops leave Dec. 31, 2014, with political pressure from a war-weary nation for the United States to end its involvement in Afghanistan. More than 2,000 Americans have died since 2001, more than 18,000 have been wounded and billions of dollars have been spent.

The 13,600 plus the additional 6,000 is far more than what U.S. and NATO leaders discussed last month at a NATO meeting in Brussels. Officials said then that they may keep a total force of between 8,000 and 12,000 troops in Afghanistan. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged that was the range being considered, but insisted that no final decision had been made.

Since then, military officials have made it clear that they prefer a more robust residual force, pushing back against the lower number in advance of Obama’s announcement. Last week, Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, said he personally recommended the U.S. leave 13,600 troops in Afghanistan and that he assumed the NATO allies would probably contribute “around 50 percent” of the U.S. total, which would be roughly 6,500.

“We have to send a message of commitment,” Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Republican lawmakers who have traveled to Afghanistan and met with U.S. military leaders have strongly expressed their support for that number. McKeon and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, have indicated their support for a significant presence.

Defense hawks in Congress such as McKeon are up against tea partyers and other fiscal conservatives determined to cut defense spending as the U.S. winds down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. McKeon said estimates show that the residual force would cost around $25 billion.

The chairman said it was critical that the United States work out a bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan quickly as well as settle on the size of the residual force. He said those concrete steps would help him in the May-June time period as the House works on a defense policy bill and he pushes back against the growing calls for immediately ending U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

During his trip, McKeon did not meet with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who this past weekend accused the Americans of working in collusion with Taliban insurgents to keep Afghanistan weak. McKeon said Dunford has told Karzai to direct his frustration at him and added that the Marine has the right temperament to deal with the mercurial Afghan president.

McKeon did meet briefly with newly minted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during the trip, and he said the two were in agreement on the imperative of working out a bilateral security agreement.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 28, 2014

News: U.S. has lost track of weapons given to Afghanistan - The United States supplied almost three quarter of a million weapons to Afghanistan’s army and police since 2004, but the military cannot track where many of those arms have gone, a new report found. Bill to improve VA has $17 billion price tag - A bipartisan...
 
 

News Briefs July 28, 2014

Marines seek authorization for dolphin deaths The Marine Corps is asking for a five-year authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service for incidental deaths of bottlenose dolphins during training exercises at a bombing and target range. The Sun Journal of New Bern, N.C., reports that Connie Barclay of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says...
 
 
Army photograph by David Vergun

Senior leaders explain Army’s drawdown plan

Army photograph by David Vergun No commander is happy when notified that a soldier from his or her command has been identified for early separation. But commanders personally notify those Soldiers and ensure participation in th...
 

 

Northrop Grumman awarded mission support services contract

The U.S. Army awarded Northrop Grumman a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, with a potential value of $205 million, to continue providing mission logistics services in support of combat brigades training at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. The contract covers one base year and two one-year options. Support will include the full range of mission...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom

F-35 Rollout Marks U.S.-Australia Partnership Milestone

Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown delivers his remarks at the roll out ceremony for Australia’s first F-35. The official rollout of the first two F-35 Lightning II...
 
 
NASA/JPL-Caltech image

NASA’s Mars spacecraft maneuvers to prepare for close comet flyby

NASA/JPL-Caltech image This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 m...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>