US Senators call for strategic pause in Afghan
Washington: Three top American Senators on Thursday demanded "strategic pause" in Afghanistan including halt to drawdown of troops to determine what, if any, changes US should make in order to achieve its goals in Afghanistan.
Observing that President Barack Obama has said that the drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan would be responsive to conditions on the ground, the three Senators - John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham - said they believe those conditions are now worrisome enough to justify an immediate suspension of further US troop withdrawals at this time.
"The purpose of this `strategic pause` should be to give our commanders time to evaluate the effects of recent troop withdrawals and to offer their best military advice on how we can achieve our goals in Afghanistan, while preventing further attacks on our forces and those of our allies. We cannot afford to rush to failure in Afghanistan," they said.
In a separate statement, McCain said in light of the growing trend of `insider attacks` that have killed US and allied troops in Afghanistan, the US needs to halt the draw-down of US forces to evaluate our overall strategy, including the President`s withdrawal plan.
"This strategic pause should be used to determine what, if any, changes we should make in order to achieve our goals in Afghanistan. I have said that no option should be taken off the table in such a discussion, including a more rapid withdrawal of US troops," McCain said in a statement.
"However, I continue to believe that would be the worst possible course of action, because so many of the problems we are now encountering in Afghanistan can be traced back to the Administration`s repeated attempts to cut corners in this conflict ? most of all, the President`s consistent disregard of the advice of his own military leaders to keep more US troops in the fight and to withdraw them at a slower pace that would put our mission at less risk," he said.
Meanwhile General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the insiders attack would not affect the Afghan strategy of Afghanistan.
"They`re tactical changes in response to a changing threat and by the way to tensions that have been generated over the release of this video and other things that are inflaming the Muslim world. But they`re in no way an indication that we`ve changed our campaign objectives," he said in response to a question at an event here.
"To suggest that we shouldn`t be adapting to the insider threat, it`s kind of analogous to me to say `OK, well we`ve got IEDs, let`s just keep driving down the road, maybe at some point they`ll stop blowing them up. It`s not about changing the objectives, although somehow it`s being portrayed that way," Dempsey said.
Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Obama believes that there would be no change in the withdrawal time table.
"The President has made clear that the drawdown of US forces will continue. The pace of that will depend on evaluations by and assessments by commanders on the ground. But it will continue, and he remains committed to ending the war in Afghanistan in keeping with the NATO objectives by 2014," Carney said in response to a question.
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