Obama Is Going Against All Advice for Political Reasons Only
President Barack Obama delivers a televised address from the East Room of the White House in Washington on June 22, 2011 on his plan to withdraw U.S. troops in Afghanistan. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo)
Mullen Sees Risk in Quicker Afghanistan Withdrawal
By BEN FELLER and JULIE PACE Associated Press
WASHINGTON June 23, 2011 (AP)
The U.S. military’s top officer told Congress on Thursday that President Barack Obama’s decision to withdraw up to 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by next summer is risky but keeps the U.S. and its allies on a path toward stabilizing the country.
In testimony to separate congressional panels, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton left no doubt that Obama chose a quicker path to winding down U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan than his generals preferred.
“The president’s decisions are more aggressive and incur more risk than I was originally prepared to accept,” Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee.
“More force for more time is, without doubt, the safer course,” he added. “But that does not necessarily make it the best course. Only the president, in the end, can really determine the acceptable level of risk we must take. I believe he has done so.”
Obama announced Wednesday evening that the U.S. and its allies had achieved enough in Afghanistan to merit a drawdown of forces beginning this summer. Obama said 10,000 troops would come home by the end of this year, to be followed by as many as 23,000 by the end of next summer. That will leave about 68,000 U.S. troops there.