Flexible timetable required to combat al Qaeda: US lawmaker

Nearly nine years in Afghanistan, US continues to risk further loss of lives.

Updated: May 20, 2010, 10:07 AM IST

Washington: With the US death toll in Afghanistan post 9/11 crossing 1,000 after the latest suicide attack on a NATO convoy, a senior lawmaker has sought for a "flexible timetable" to withdraw American forces from the war-ravaged nation to combat al Qaeda.

"Our nation marked a grim milestone this week when the 1,000th American service member died as a result of service in and around Afghanistan," Senator Russ Feingold said on Wednesday.

Nearly nine years in Afghanistan, the US continues to risk further loss of American lives to sustain a massive, open-ended military presence that undermines its ability to tackle the al Qaeda`s global network, he said.

"It is long past time that we set a flexible timetable for withdrawing our forces from Afghanistan so we are better able to pursue a global strategy to combat al Qaeda," the Senator said.

Feingold said he planned to offer an amendment that would require the President to provide such a timetable when the Senate considers a war funding bill in the coming days.

Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, "As we mark this solemn milestone, we can`t overstate the enormous sacrifices our service members and civilians have made. We must never forget the September 11th attack on America was conceived in and conducted from Afghanistan."

The memories of that horrific day underscore America`s efforts in Afghanistan directly impact the security at home, Kerry said, adding the courage of the patriots, who made the ultimate sacrifice, would never be forgotten.

"Our men and women in uniform are still hard at work in Iraq and Afghanistan, putting their lives on the line to help make America safer and more secure," Russ Carnahan, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organisations, Human Rights and Oversight, said.

"We have to make sure that the reconstruction strategies we`re employing support success on the ground. It`s critical to the self-sufficiency of Afghanistan, the safety of our troops, and the security of the world," he added.