Speaking today to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the current US commander in occupied Afghanistan, warned against the idea of removing troops after 2014, saying the US needed to retain a military position there beyond the supposed “end” of the war.
Dunford claimed he hasn’t made any assessments on the size of the US force after 2014, and would not do so until after the current summer fighting season, which he said would be a “bellweather” for determining the war’s success.
Of course, every one of the past several summer fighting seasons has been prefaced by claims it would be the one where the tides finally turn in favor of the NATO forces, but each time it doesn’t, the “bellweather” summer is quickly moved to the next year.
Dunford has repeatedly refused to make public any recommendations on troop levels, and this drew criticism from Sen. John McCain (R – AZ), who accused Dunford of “undermining” security in the occupied nation by not making specific recommendations earlier, saying Afghans needed to know a major US force would remain.
President Obama signed a pact to keep troops in Afghanistan through 2024, but whether they actually will stay that long, and how many of them, remains unanswered. Officials seem convinced the US will stay long enough that questions about their exit are irrelevant, however.
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