McRaven: Permanent bases in Afghanistan not needed
WASHINGTON (PAN): Pentagon officials told US lawmakers on Tuesday that the US needs to have an enduring military relationship with Afghanistan, but stopped short of recommending the establishment of a permanent military base in the country.
That advice came as American forces prepare to begin the withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan, a process that is slated to be completed by 2014.
“I believe we should have an enduring military relationship with the Afghans,” said Vice Adm. William McRaven at his Senate confirmation hearing. McRaven oversaw the operation that killed Osama bin Laden and has been nominated by President Obama to become Commander of US Special Operations Command.
“Do you believe that we ought to have an enduring military presence, for example, a base – an airbase – in Afghanistan?” asked Senator John McCain, the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Everything that I know and hear is that President Karzai is very interested in such an arrangement.”
“With regard to a permanent base, I don't believe that we need a permanent base in Afghanistan,” McRaven said in response to McCain’s question. “We could probably conduct operations over the long-term from a shared-basing concept within Afghanistan.”
He acknowledged, however, that ultimately any decision regarding the nature of a long-term American military presence in Afghanistan would be made in concert with Afghan officials.
Lt. Gen. John Allen, Obama’s pick to oversee the war in Afghanistan once Gen. David Petraeus becomes Director of the CIA, also addressed congress. “The US and NATO are both discussing long-term strategic partnerships with Afghanistan. This reality sends an important message of commitment to the Afghan people, as well as a sense of urgency that Afghans must take more responsibility for their security,” said Allen.
Allen said he would recommend to Pakistan that they take necessary measures to reduce terrorist safe havens. In reality, he said, those safe havens not only allow insurgents to attack Afghanistan, but they also provide a springboard for attacks against the Pakistani government and the Pakistani military.
Allen said the US “will continue to encourage our Pakistani friends to bring pressure to bear upon those safe havens. It's not just good for the outcome of our strategy and for the president's vision on the outcome in Afghanistan; it's good for Pakistan as well,” he said.
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