Lawmakers Confused as Administration’s Afghan Escalation Claims Scrutinized

Is July 2011 a Firm Date? Officials Aren't Sure

Members of Congress are expressing growing concern about the Afghan escalation strategy, particularly the Obama Administration’s vague comments and decision to de-emphasize the partnership with the Afghan military.

The administration’s decidedly off-message testimony following President Obama’s Tuesday night speech was in no small measure problematic. Though President Obama had insisted it was a “30,000” man escalation and the pullout would begin in July 2011, officials shot holes into both of those claims.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee today that the July 2011 date was just an estimate and that it might be changed. Robert Gibbs on the other hand insisted in a press conference later in the day that the July 2011 date was in fact set in stone.

Even the 30,000, somewhat lower than the 34,000 soldier escalation being talked about before, doesn’t seem set. US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry insisted that what Obama presented was actually an “up to 35,000” troop surge.

Growing popular discontent and the fact that the top administration officials can’t even seem to agree on what the plan actually is have led many members of Congress to oppose the build-up, with some suggesting they may try to block funding for the war.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.