Lt. Gen. John Nicholson Jr., the nominee for the new commander of the Afghan War, testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee today, confirming that the situation on the ground is “deteriorating” and that he plans a “thorough review” once installed.
Current commander Gen. John Campbell is expected to retire soon, and convinced the White House to push back its pullout plan from the end of 2016 to a tentative date in 2017. Though Gen. Nicholson didn’t totally abandon the notion of a pullout, he suggested he would conduct his own assessment before making any recommendations.
Gen. Nicholson also hinted at support for escalations of the number of US troops in Afghanistan, talking up the idea of “right-sizing” the US military presence in the nation instead of just continuing the planned drawdown.
The Pentagon issued its own statement denying that Gen. Campbell had many any recommendations to send more troops into Afghanistan, and claiming the Afghan military was getting stronger, a claim that does not appear to reflect growing Taliban gains on the ground.
Indeed, Pentagon officials have recently talked of the 2017 pullout date as though it’s all but abandoned already, suggesting the US would remain in the nation for “generations” to come. Nicholson may be overseeing the transition to that permanent occupation.
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