The debate among President Obama’s military and civilian advisors over the pace of the troop drawdown in Afghanistan has come to a head as the July 2011 deadline to begin the process approaches, The Washington Post reports.
When President Obama approved a 30,000-troop increase at the request of the military in 2009, he set a deadline of July 2011 to begin bringing some of those forces home. Publicly, the White House has been adamant that this deadline remains, but senior officials and military planning documents cited by the Post suggest any troop reductions in July will be “insignificant” -- which they say has been met with displeasure by the president.
Senior military officials told the Post that staff officers in Kabul may offer three options for troop drawdown: almost no withdrawal; the removal of a few thousand support personnel; or the removal of an entire brigade. Removing troops from provinces like Kandahar and Helmand before the Afghan security forces are ready to assume control could undo gains made by the U.S. troop surge, military officials argue.