Wednesday night, the President announced an aggressive drawdown that appears to conform to a politically motivated timetable set out in 2009. This drawdown will remove 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, followed by 23,000 more by summer 2012.
Admiral Mullen Testifies to House Armed Services Committee about Drawdown Plan
In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was candid saying that while he supported the President’s decisions, they “are more aggressive and incur more risk than I was originally prepared to accept.”
This statement comes as military experts began to express concern with the pace and scope of the President’s drawdown decision.
Military Experts Concerned with Pace of Obama Drawdown
The President’s decision went beyond the advice of military experts and civilian officials who warned that a significant drawdown at this moment lacked strategic logic and would endanger the progress the surge has accomplished over the last eighteen months.
The New York Times reported on Thursday that this sentiment is widely shared in the national security community. Military experts across a broad political spectrum expressed concern that the President’s plan will make it more difficult, if not impossible, for the commanders to carry out one of their major goals for next year.
“‘…[P]utting a September 2012 expiration tag on the rest of the surge raises real concerns,’ added General Barno, now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a policy research center. ‘That's the middle of the fighting season.’
“Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, another policy research center, said the September pullout date really means that many of those troops will stop carrying out their missions months earlier.
“The president's timetable, he said, ‘will require troops to spend most of the summer on the downsizing effort when they arguably should spend most of the summer fighting and taking away safe havens from extremists.’“Mr. O'Hanlon and General Barno said it was hard to fathom the military logic of setting a withdrawal deadline for the surge right in the middle of the fighting season. ‘This is a rushed ending to what has been a fairly effective surge,’ Mr. O'Hanlon said.”