Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Troop withdrawal from Afghanistan to begin next year

Below is a portion of a read out from an August 16th press conference with State Department spokesperson Philip J. Crowley:

QUESTION: Can (inaudible) a sense of just how many – the reliance on security contractors since 2002, and has it gone up or has it gone down, and in relation to the gap that you’re talking about in terms of capability of the Afghan Government?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take the question. I don’t know that we have – I don’t have numbers here.

QUESTION: Can you just give us a sense? Are you using more or less today?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have more civilians in Afghanistan, but we also have more – a larger military presence in Afghanistan. I suspect it’s gone up slightly, but I’ll – we’ll double-check that.

QUESTION: What’s the concern in terms of money being allocated to Lebanon --

MR. CROWLEY: Hold on, hold on, hold on.

QUESTION: So you’re suggesting that the withdrawal table is still on track? Because I have a follow-up to that (inaudible) Afghanistan.

MR. CROWLEY: Well --

QUESTION: Because you said --

MR. CROWLEY: -- as the President has outlined in his – that we are going to review the current state of progress at the end of this year and we will begin to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan beginning next year, but as to the length of time that will take – back to Goyal’s question – that is not – that’s not knowable at this point.

QUESTION: But General Petraeus yesterday on Meet the Press basically suggested otherwise, that we might have to be there longer or – he pointed to the cover of Time Magazine what might happen and so on once the U.S. forces, suggesting maybe this timetable should be lengthened.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I don’t want to create any new news here. The --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.) (Laughter.)

MR. CROWLEY: The withdrawal of troops will begin next year, but its pace will be, as General Petraeus said yesterday and as the President has stressed, based on conditions on the ground. But again, as we’re able to expand the capabilities of the Afghan national security forces, that will definitely have a profound impact on the length of time that you’ll see international forces still in Afghanistan.


David said...

I'd bet if McCain had won the 2008 election we'd be escalating in Iraq and Afghanistan instead. This is a big victory for the peace movement.

Gloria said...

Right. Remember when the "professional left" insisted that withdrawal plans for Iraq were "just words." Now it's down to 50,000 non-combat troops, and while it is important to continue to agitate to end the occupation there, it's pretty obvious we're not fighting a war.