2013 end to Afghan combat premature: Republican
WASHINGTON (PAN): The announcement by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to end the Afghan combat mission in 2013 is premature and unfortunate, top Republican lawmakers said Thursday, arguing the move would bolster the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“Today’s comments by Secretary Panetta that the Administration is planning to announce an end to combat operations in Afghanistan in 2013 sends exactly the wrong signal to our friends and enemies in this conflict,” Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham said.
By making such an announcement, the two Senators said: “This continues the Obama Administration’s misguided policy of publicly forecasting its plans to withdraw from Afghanistan. This decision reflects domestic politics in the United States, not conditions on the ground in Afghanistan.”
“The Taliban have little incentive to engage in a meaningful negotiation with the Afghan government or with us to end the conflict when they believe the United States is leaving and that they can wait us out,” the Senators said.
“It is very unfortunate that the Administration continues to provide reassurance to our enemies that the United States is more eager to leave Afghanistan than to succeed,” McCain and Graham said.
Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, termed it a huge mistake by the Obama Administration. “Announcing a change in mission in Afghanistan –before we have even validated that the Afghan Security Forces can maintain stability in the areas we have already transitioned and ahead of the fighting season –is premature,” he said.
While there have certainly been improvements in the Afghan security forces’ capabilities, the Committee has not seen a single assessment by our commanders that indicates they have any confidence in such a swift transition, he argued.
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