Gen. Campbell may seek more US troops for Afghanistan
PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): America’s top military commander in Afghanistan has hinted at seeking more troops to dealing with twin challenges of training the local forces and conducting counter-terrorism operations.
“If I don’t believe that we can accomplish the train, advise and assist and the (counter-terrorism) missions, then I owe it to the senior leadership to come back and say, ‘Here’s what I need’. If that’s more people, it’s more people,” Gen. John Campbell said.
In an interview with the USA Today, he suggested the security situation in Afghanistan was tenuous and as many troops there as possible should stay there through 2016 to support Afghan soldiers.
Maintaining the current force of 9,800 US troops to train Afghan security personnel and conduct anti-terrorism operations is imperative, according to the commander, who believed the planned drawdown to 5,500 by Jan. 1, 2017 be delayed as long as possible.
"My intent would be to keep as much as I could for as long as I could," Campbell said. "At some point it becomes physics. I'm going to have to get them out," the general told the newspaper over the telephone from Kabul.
Scheduled to visit Washington soon to brief leaders on the security situation in Afghanistan and troop levels required for their missions, Campbell refused going into the specifics on his recommendations. "Some of them will not go over well with people. Some of them will get approved."
He said Washington’s long-term commitment was glad tidings for Afghan leaders, security forces and the Pakistan government. But he would still not hesitate demanding more troops for Afghanistan, if necessary.
"My job as commander on the ground is to continually make assessments," the general said, adding: "Every time I've gone to the president and said, 'I need X,' I've been very, very fortunate that he's provided that. So he's been very flexible. It's actually been conditions based as we've gone forward.
"If I don't believe that we can accomplish the train, advise and assist and the (counter-terrorism) missions, then I owe it to the senior leadership to come back and say, 'Here's what I need.' If that's more people, it's more people."
The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated in the second half of the current year, with an uptick in insurgent attacks and higher casualties among the Taliban and the security forces.
President Barack Obama has already backtracked on a pledge to pull out all but 1,000 troops. In October, Obama announced that 9,800 US soldiers would stay in Afghanistan until the end of next year.
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