House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers says President Barack Obama’s timeline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan seems to carry political overtones, as it comes just months before the 2012 presidential election. The Michigan Republican also said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that it is too soon to bring a large number of troops home.
|Rep. Mike Rogers: "I think we have done more harm to our ability to leave Afghanistan a place that can defend itself." (AP Photo)
“What the military commanders said is: Give us two fighting seasons at the surge level — and the fighting season in Afghanistan goes from about May through October,” Rogers told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “They’re right in the middle of this fighting season, and the Taliban keeps arguing and keeps communicating to the Afghans, ‘We’re winning, they’re gonna leave, be careful who you support.’
“So by announcing it now, right in the middle of that first fighting season, I think we have done more harm to our ability to leave Afghanistan a place that can defend itself,” he said. “And at the end of the day, that is the goal — that their police, that their army, can deal with the Taliban once we leave. In order for that to happen — and I supported the president when he called for the surge last year . . . troops have to leave right at the beginning of the [next] fighting season.”
The withdrawal plan was “written more by the political shop than the Pentagon,” with the 2012 election in mind, Rogers said. Obama plans to have 33,000 troops out by September 2012, two months before the election.
“I think it is very hard to come to any other conclusion when the timeline is exactly in line with the 2012 election,” he said. “The timeline is just too darn close — I’m a former FBI guy and coincidences are one thing — but the fact that it lines up to have those troops out before the first debate of 2012 is concerning to me. Mainly because the conditions on ground have not changed.
“And now this notion they are going to negotiate with the Taliban send a horrible message to the Afghans that have been cooperating with the United States,” Rogers said.
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