Centcom Commander: US Must Keep Troops in Afghanistan to ‘Send a Strong Message’

Praises Obama for Not Following Through With Planned Drawdown

Speaking at the Foreign Policy Initiative’s forum today, Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of Central Command, praised President Obama for not following through on planned drawdowns of ground troops in occupied Afghanistan, saying he wants to keep troop levels at least this high for the foreseeable future.

Gen. Votel argued that keeping 8,400 troops in Afghanistan more or less permanently was “a very wise move,” and that it would “send a strong message” to the people of Afghanistan that the US believes “the military strategy is working.” The US invaded and occupied Afghanistan in 2001.

The most recent drawdown was supposed to have the troop level down to 5,500 by year’s end, though Obama had previously suspended it indefinitely. There were previous drawdown plans, similarly scrapped by Obama, which would’ve ended the war years ago.

Though previous Pentagon officials, like Votel, continue to insist the strategy is “working,” the war in Afghanistan is getting worse by the day, with recent reports showing the Taliban controls more territory now than at any other time during the war. Afghan forces continue to lose ground, and US troops are being sent to more and more areas around the country to try to slow the losses.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.