Listening to the Advice Of Commanders On The Ground

Mar 7, 2012
Defense Drumbeat
In an interview on Fox News last week, retired four star and former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, General Jack Keane was asked about comments President Obama made to ABC News claiming he listens to his commanders on the ground. General Keane responded by describing the three major recommendations made by top military commanders, all of which President Obama rejected. 

Surging in Afghanistan
In 2009, Generals Petraeus and McChrystal recommended to President Obama that the minimum force necessary for carrying out the mission the President had assigned was 40,000 surge forces. President Obama rejected that, provided 25% fewer forces than the recommended minimum, and inserted a withdrawal table he famously justified by saying “I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.” The result of this decision, as General Keane described, has been to protract the war in Afghanistan, increase casualties, and thus erode public support for the war. 

Drawing Down the Afghanistan Surge
In 2011, General Petraeus submitted recommendations for a modest drawdown of surge forces. President Obama dismissed that recommendation by moving to withdraw all 33,000 surge forces. General Keane argued that decision has placed at greater risk the mission in eastern Afghanistan as well as the chances of overall success in Afghanistan. 

Residual Force in Iraq
Last year, General Austin recommended the United States leave a residual force of 26,000 in Iraq. President Obama left no forces behind after failing to negotiate a new Status of Forces Agreement. In the wake of that decision, political turmoil and violence have increased.

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