"Allen, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, says the White House hasn't given him any timetable for further cuts after September 2012. That's when the last of the 30,000 "surge" troops Obama dispatched will be gone, leaving about 68,000 U.S. soldiers.
"No one has conveyed to me that at the end of September I'm going to get a number" for more withdrawals through 2013, Allen said in an interview here Tuesday. He said the president's policy, as he understands it, is for a "strategy-based drawdown" that's driven by the situation on the ground, rather than a preordained timeline.
Yes, but that's precisely what the debate is about.
According to Pentagon officials, Allen favors keeping most of the 68,000 in place until late 2013, so that the U.S. has two "fighting seasons" to bolster Afghan troops before giving them full responsibility in 2014. But Vice President Joe Biden and some other administration officials want a commitment to steady, sustained withdrawals through next year's election campaign. Allen told me that "there could be a quicker drawdown" if military conditions allow but that there is no "glide path." Some in the White House would disagree." Ignatius
Somehow the present generation of general officers think they are in charge of geopolitics and national policy. The Iraq "crowd" were sure rhey could dictate the terms of US eventual withdrawal from that "country." Even now there is a three-star left behind in Baghdad as leader of "the three hundred" who seems to think that he can do what he likes without approval of the Iraqis. Good luck to him.
In Afghanistan, General Allen, USMC does not seem to comprehend that he does not have a free hand. The American people are fed up with these two wars. Allen is reputed to be a smart man. He should remember that marines work for the American people like everyone else in the armed forces. In the end, the opinion of the citizenry determines foreign policy. Bush fils agreed to the terms of our withdrawal from Iraq because the Americnn people had turned against the war. If the next president is a Republican, that president will inevitably be forced to accept the desire of the American people for an end there.
I have favord a CT strategy for Afghanistan with continuation of SOF operations on a personnel base of 20,000 soldiers (more or less). I think we are past that now. I think that is no longer possible politically either in America or South Asia. Time has moved on.
IMO we will go to the "three hundred" option in Afghanistan. Pursuit operations againt dangerous extremists must continue but such operations will not be based in Afghanistan for long. pl