U.S. forces need to stay in Afghanistan after the end of the year to defend the coalition’s recent progress, a top Defense Department official said Tuesday evening.
“Afghanistan has moved forward quite a bit.”¦ The Afghanistan security forces are in charge. They are providing security for the nation,” Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said Tuesday evening at a Council on Foreign Relations event. “What they are not ready to do — their institutions are not yet mature enough to sustain this over the long time.”
Odierno recently returned from Afghanistan, but he said he didn’t meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai while he was there. U.S. and NATO officials have led a public campaign to get the Afghan president to sign a bilateral security agreement for U.S. military involvement in the country after 2014.
Defense Department officials are recommending that the United States leave 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after this year — approximately the number the United States offered to leave in Iraq.
But Odierno echoed comments made at a congressional hearing Tuesday morning, saying that the two countries face different challenges. Iraq, he said, had a better economy but was at a greater threat for sectarian violence.
“The bigger threat to [Afghanistan] is that the Taliban would come back and try to take the government back,” he said.
Odierno’s comments come as a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation last week pressing for Congress to be able to vote on whether the United States should keep troops in Afghanistan after 2014.
The Army official also touched on the U.S. shift to the Asia-Pacific, reiterating that despite criticism from members of Congress and other governments, the military is serious about the rebalance.
“I think that they’re watching very carefully, and they’re watching to see what we do,” he said.
What We're Following See More »
"Paul Manafort, who served as a top aide to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, on Tuesday provided congressional investigators notes he took during a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer that has emerged as a focus in the investigation of Russian interference in the election. Manafort’s submission, which came as he was interviewed in a closed session by staff members for the Senate Intelligence Committee, could offer a key contemporaneous account of the June 2016 session."
By the narrowest of margins, the Senate voted 51-50 this afternoon to begin debate on the House's legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins defected from the GOP, but Vice President Pence broke a tie. Sen. John McCain returned from brain surgery to cast his vote.
"Republicans who interviewed Jared Kushner for more than three hours in the House’s Russia probe on Tuesday said the president’s son-in-law and adviser came across as candid and cooperative. 'His answers were forthcoming and complete. He satisfied all my questions,' said Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who’s leading the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign."