Senator Calls for More Afghan Forces, Not US Troops
By Ravi Khanna
12 September 2009
President Obama is facing growing dissent within his own party on plans to commit more troops to the war in Afghanistan, even as American commanders say the situation on the ground has deteriorated.
By all accounts, the Taliban insurgency has made serious gains recently across Afghanistan.
On Friday, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, told the Senate that no new US troops should be deployed to Afghanistan until the US speeds up training of Afghanistan's army.
He said there should be a surge in the number of Afghan troops. "Our support of their surge will show our commitment to the success of mission that is clearly in our national security interests, without creating a bigger US military foot print that provides propaganda fodder for the Taliban," he said.
He also said US equipment no longer needed in Iraq should be made available to Afghan forces.
Levin just returned from Afghanistan's Helmand province. Speaking to reporters on Friday, he said Afghan leaders want the ability to fight the Taliban themselves. "They hate the Taliban, they have lived under the rule of the Taliban. The main reason we are there is to help them succeed in their efforts," he said.
President Obama has called Afghanistan a war of necessity.
Sixty-eight thousand US troops are already on the ground or will be there by the end of this year.
Recently, US Commander General Stanley McChrystal delivered a report to President Obama describing the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. It is unclear if the report asks for more troops. The administration is expected to decide within weeks whether to deploy additional US forces.
On the eve of the September 11 anniversary, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also expressed doubts about sending more Americans to war. "I don't think there is a great deal of support for sending more troops to Afghanistan, in the country or the Congress," she said.
On Thursday, a new report by a London policy institute said Taliban activity has spread to 80 percent of Afghanistan, with one or more attacks per week.
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