President Obama announced yesterday that he has decided to withdrawal 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and another 23,000 by September 2012.
General Patraeus, top commander in Afghanistan, was asked by Senator Carl Levin if he would resign in protest, said “I don't think it's the place for the commander to consider that kind of step unless you are in a very, very dire situation." Patraeus obviously chose his words wisely, considering he will be taking over the position of CIA director in two weeks.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, supported Obama’s plans, but said in a AFP interview that declining political support for the counter-insurgency campaign was a key factor in the decision. Gates suggested that Patraeus endorsed a slower withdrawal timetable during the “summer fighting season,” stating, “Obviously he had preferred options that gave more time."
Professional soldiers, such as four star General Patraeus, would invariably want to keep troops in Afghanistan. I would compare it to a professional surfer being told to stay on the beach and count the waves. How else can a professional army gain combat experience without real, on the ground, fighting? From a military point-of-view, one can fully understand why military commanders would want to stay with current troop levels.
US President Barack Obama's military commanders say he ignored their advice for a more modest withdrawal from Afghanistan and warned his decision carries dire risk in the war effort.
White House officials have stressed that Obama’s decision in Afghanistan is based on military strategy and not politics. Really? All of Obama’s moves are politically motivated—elections are only one year away.
In the end, Obama’s decision in Afghanistan simply brought us back to the same position we were in when Bush left office. The troops levels will be exactly as they were when Bush left, but a year from now.
Two steps forward and one step back.