Gen Joe Dunford, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, questioned President Obama’s decision to telegraph an end-date for U.S. service members in Afghanistan while speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. Gen. Dunford is the nominee to become commandant of the Marine Corps.
“I think all of us in uniform, to include the Afghans, would have preferred that that be a bit more ambiguous,” the general said in response to a question asked by Senator John McCain of Arizona, Reuters reported. The senator wanted to know if Mr. Obama’s announcement in May that all troops would be gone by 2017 had affected troop morale.
Mr. McCain then asked the general if he was aware of any senior military leaders who had recommended setting a fixed date for a full pullout of U.S. military personnel, Reuters reported.
“None that I know of, senator. And I think we still plan to have, as you know, some presence after 2017. But no one recommended zero. […] Every military leader would want to have the conditions on the ground and the assumptions be revalidated as a transition takes place,” said the general, Reuters reported.
Gen. Dunford then went on to say that the ability of Afghan security forces to conduct certain security operations would be in doubt after all U.S. forces leave.
“There’s no doubt that the Afghan forces today would not be capable of conducting the kind of operations we’re conducting to pressure [the Taliban]” he said, Reuters reported.
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