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Sens. McCain, Kerry Want Afghan War Strategy Review

Sep. 19, 2012 - 03:14PM   |  
By JOHN T. BENNETT   |   Comments
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Several influential U.S. senators on Sept. 19 insisted Washington should reassess its Afghanistan war strategy, with one suggesting it might be time to bring home all U.S. troops.

In a surprising move, the Pentagon this week announced it is suspending joint activities involving U.S. forces and their Afghan counterparts after a slew of attacks by the former this year on Western forces.

The move, if sustained for some time, could be a major blow to President Barack Obama’s Afghan strategy, which is closely linked to U.S. and NATO forces training Afghan forces. The idea is to get those indigenous security forces ready as NATO forces transfer more and more territory before mostly withdrawing by 2014’s end.

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has endorsed the 2014 withdrawal date.

But the green-on-blue attacks, as they are known in military circles, prohibit that kind of necessary close training. So if the suspension of joint activity holds, enough Afghan forces “are not going to be ready,” Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain, R-Ariz., told reporters Sept. 19.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., told Defense News “it’s time to reassess the entire strategy, take a really hard look at it.”

In comments sure to raise eyebrows on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, McCain suggested that shy of a new strategy, it might be best to simply end the 11-year-old war.

“I think all options [should] be considered, including whether we have to just withdraw early rather than have a continued bloodletting that won’t succeed,” an emotional McCain said.

“The whole program has to be re-evaluated because the process they said would lead to that [2014] withdrawal has been an abject and total failure,” McCain said.

Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., House Appropriations defense subcommittee chairman, told a Sunshine State newspaper this week that it is time to end the conflict and bring home all U.S. forces.

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