A new letter today by the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee (Sens. Carl Levin (D – MI), John McCain (R – A), Joe Lieberman (I – CT), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC)) is warning President Obama against following through on a NATO plan to reduce the size of the Afghan military to a more manageable level.
The letter warned that reducing the size of Afghanistan’s 352,000-strong military was “unjustified” and claimed it would threaten the “achievement” that the military occupation has yielded in the past 11 years.
NATO debated the plan last week, with a number of officials looking to delay the cut from 2014 to 2017, at a cost of an additional $2.1 billion annually above the $4.1 billion the reduced size would cost. The Afghan government pays for virtually none of its own military, and with NATO pledges of only $110 million so far, the US is assumed to be on the hook for the other $6+ billion.
Today’s letter didn’t appear to endorse cuts at the future date either, but did make mention of NATO troops leaving in 2014. This is the official NATO position, but is not expected to happen, and the US is close to finalizing a deal to remain in the nation through at least 2024.