Leaders on the Senate Armed Services Committee — both Democrat and Republican — are warning President Barack Obama not to shrink Afghanistan security forces after U.S. troops finish their withdrawal in 2014. The administration could cut Afghan troop levels by reducing financial aid.
In a strongly-worded letter to Obama, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich.; ranking member John McCain, R-Ariz.; and Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., say premature cutbacks in the Afghan National Security Forces could "jeopardize the progress of the past decade or weaken the security of Afghanistan," The Hill
“Having labored so hard and so long to recruit, train, and mentor sufficient Afghan security forces to take lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s security, we believe it would be a mistake now to undermine this achievement through premature and militarily unjustified reductions in the size of those forces,” the senators write.
NATO plans to trim the Afghan military’s troop level by more than a third to 230,000 after 2014 from 352,000 this year. Military officials say current levels represent a surge force and are thus needed only temporarily. But some reports have indicated that NATO is worried about spending levels.
The senators maintain that a reduction to 230,000 should take place only if security conditions improve. The Obama administration “should not presume a best-case scenario or wishful thinking regarding the security threats in Afghanistan,” they write. "We believe that this is the wrong approach for determining the future size of the Afghan security forces."
Using financial concerns to justify Afghan troop shrinkage "is shortsighted given the tens of billions of dollars that will be saved as U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan," the senators say.
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