U.S. lawmakers to press commander on troop levels for Afghan war

WASHINGTON - The top American commander in Afghanistan faces skeptical lawmakers amid concerns that worsening security conditions demand a greater number of U.S.

See Full Article

forces to ensure the gains made in the war-torn country since 2001 aren't lost.

Army Gen. John F. Campbell is slated to testify on Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee, where members are expected to press him on President Barack Obama's plan to cut American troop levels from 9,800 to 5,500 before he leaves office next January. Obama had backtracked from his initial plan to reduce the U.S. force to 1,000 by the end of 2016.

Republicans have long assailed Obama's exit strategy, arguing that conditions on the ground in Afghanistan, not a calendar, should determine the pace of the withdrawal. With the Taliban staging new offensives and the Islamic State extremist group seeking a presence in Afghanistan, congressional Democrats also are raising the prospect of an extended stay.

"I've always believed that putting a time limit on it is a mistake," Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry, the committee chairman, said Monday. "To say this is going to take five years, 10 years or 50 years, nobody can say that."

Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton warned against a repeat of Iraq. American forces were withdrawn too rapidly and without a long-term political strategy to ensure the progress they made would hold, he said. U.S. troops had to return to Iraq after the resulting instability allowed IS to grow.

"I've never been an advocate for withdrawing troops on a timetable," said Moulton, a former Marine Corps officer who served four tours in Iraq. "If security is worsening with the number of troops we have there now, then we shouldn't cut them below the current level."

Campbell is expected to retire soon and Obama has nominated Army Lt. Gen. John W. "Mick" Nicholson, Jr., to replace him.

Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly said last week that Congress "desperately" needs an unvarnished assessment of troop requirements even if the recommended number contradicts what Obama has proposed.

"If it's 10,000 that's needed to be effective, then tell us it's 10. If it's (5,000), tell us it's 5," Donnelly said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing held to consider Nicholson's nomination. "If we don't have enough there, it's just going to make it worse, and worse and worse."

While campaigning for his second term, Obama promised the war in Afghanistan would end on his watch. At the end of 2014, the White House declared an end to combat operations there. Yet American forces and money remain committed as Afghan troops and police slowly take over the fighting.

The mission of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan is to conduct counterterrorism operations and to train and assist the Afghan security forces. Nicholson assured the Senate Armed Services Committee that if confirmed, he will do a thorough review to make sure there are enough American forces to accomplish both assignments.

Nicholson acknowledged, however, that security conditions are worsening in Afghanistan. The Afghans held their own in 2015 during combat against the insurgency, he said, but are still not self-sustaining. The U.S. continues to provide the bulk of the money to train and equip the Afghan military and police - more than $4.1 billion was allotted in fiscal year 2015 alone to the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund, according to the Defence Department.

"The Taliban came at the (Afghan forces) more intensely than perhaps we anticipated," Nicholson said. "Because of that, we did not make the advances we projected we thought we would make."

Overall, the U.S. has committed $113 billion since 2002 for reconstruction projects in hopes of establishing a stable, functioning Afghan government. Yet, nearly 15 years later, Afghanistan still lacks the capacity to independently operate and maintain the hospitals, roads, power plants, and more built with all the money.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Two wildfires burning in B.C.'s Northern Interior and Cariboo regions

    Canada News CTV News
    100 MILE HOUSE, B.C. -- There are two wildfires burning in the Cariboo and Northern Interior regions of B.C. BC Wildfire Service says a containment line has been established around an out-of-control wildfire near 100 Mile House. Source
  • Professor fired for racially charged remarks on Fox News

    World News CBC News
    A New Jersey community college has fired an adjunct professor after officials say she made racially insensitive comments on Fox News. Essex County College's president announced the decision Friday, two weeks after Lisa Durden appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight. Source
  • 'It's definitely a crisis,' says family after three Cape Breton teen suicides

    Canada News CTV News
    The family of a young transgender teenager who took his own life is calling on the Nova Scotia government to do more to address what they’re calling a suicide crisis in Cape Breton. Justin Newell died by suicide on June 3. Source
  • Canadians not shy at wrapping themselves in the Canada 150 logo

    Canada News CBC News
    It's been said that Canadians are not brash about their patriotism, but you wouldn't know it from the variety of merchandise, big and small, being snapped up in advance of Canada's 150th birthday July 1. From T-shirts to hats, flags to flasks, condoms to caskets, goods adorned with celebratory logos are popping up faster than you can say sesquicentennial. Source
  • HL:Trump: Not 'that far off' from passing health overhaul

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Making a final push, President Donald Trump said he doesn't think congressional Republicans are "that far off" on a health overhaul to replace "the dead carcass of Obamacare" and signalled that last-minute changes were coming to win enough support for passage. Source
  • Trump: Not 'that far off' from passing health overhaul

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Making a final push, U.S. President Donald Trump said he doesn't think congressional Republicans are "that far off" on a health overhaul to replace "the dead carcass of Obamacare" and signalled that last-minute changes were coming to win enough support for passage. Source
  • Crowd catches teen falling from park ride; no serious injury

    World News CTV News
    QUEENSBURY, N.Y. -- A teenager fell about about 8 metres from a stopped gondola ride at an upstate New York amusement park Saturday night, tumbling into a crowd of park guests and employees gathered below to catch her before she hit the ground. Source
  • Toronto Pride parade draws revellers from around the world

    Canada News CBC News
    The annual Pride parade is one of Toronto's biggest celebrations, drawing tens of thousands of revellers into the city to fête the LGBT community. Reading this on mobile? Find our live blog hereAbout 150 different organizations, businesses and groups are participating in the two-hour parade. Source
  • Some U.S. pride parades disrupted by protests

    World News Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — Gay pride parades Sunday in New York, San Francisco and other cities are spotlighting resistance to what participants see as new pressure on gay rights, while contending with the prospect of protests over the events’ own diversity and direction. Source
  • Float in Montreal parade sparks allegations of racism

    Canada News CTV News
    A video taken at Saturday’s St. Jean Baptiste parade in Montreal is sparking outrage among some -- and calls for calm among others. The video shows pop singer Annie Villeneuve on Rue St. Denis on a float being pushed by what appears to be only people of colour. Source