The top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Campbell said that he had suggested the several options scheme to US top commanders about the withdrawal process of international troops from Afghanistan.
Gen. Campbell said that he wants “greater flexibility” to potentially keep more U.S. troops in Afghanistan than are called for under the drawdown plan President Obama outlined last year.
Campbell noted his views are influenced in part by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s request for more U.S. support for Afghan forces in areas including logistics, intelligence and air support.
Army Gen. John Campbell said, “I have provided options to my chain of command” and noted that Afghan President Ashral Ghani has also asked for “some flexibility” in the schedule that would bring the American force down to about 1,000 by the end of 2016. That force would be concentrated at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and an assistance mission at nearby Bagram.
When asked about his definition of success in Afghanistan, Campbell said one measure is “the cooperation I see between police and the Army is quite good.” Right now, he said the Afghans control all district centers. He added that if one center was captured that it would retaken in “six or seven hours.”
They also are opening opportunities for younger officials to advance. As an example, Campbell said Ghani had retired 48 generals the day before the hearing and had retired 15 others when he took office. “Leadership makes a difference;” and for lieutenant colonels and colonels, “there is hope to move up.” He also noted that the Afghan army is now recruiting year-round and not just in the winter, when its soldiers are not engaged in combat.
Around 10,800 American soldiers and 2000 coalition forces are currently staying in Afghanistan to train and consult Afghan security forces.
In the meantime, Committee Chair Sen. John McCain said “the calendar-based approach” to withdrawal that would see about 5,500 coalition forces remaining in Afghanistan during the height of the summer “fighting season.” Combat traditionally ends in late September as the snows begin falling in the mountains. There are now about 12,900 coalition forces in training and assistance missions across the country in places such as Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat and Kabul.
This comes as one of the top US commanders on Wednesday said that President Obama will reexamine President Ghani’s suggest on slow process of withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan.
Reported by Fahim Noori