Levin: More Afghan troops needed

Sept. 11, 2009 at 1:57 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- The military strategy in Afghanistan should focus on increasing the capability of domestic forces before committing more U.S. troops, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin said.

In his speech to the Senate on Friday, Levin, D-Mich., said more Afghan troops were needed in order to achieve the goal set forth by U.S. President Barack Obama and his top military commanders.

Levin returned recently from a trip to Afghanistan to review the situation ahead of a report expected from U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top military commander there.

Levin explained the Obama administration's strategy put an emphasis on securing the safety of the Afghan population and preparing the Afghan security forces to sustain that objective.

"To achieve that goal we should increase and accelerate our efforts to support the Afghan security forces in their efforts to become self-sufficient in delivering security to their nation -- before we consider whether to increase U.S. combat forces above the levels already planned for the next few months," he said.

Levin said that an increased U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan gave the enemies of the United States an opportunity to "drive a wedge between us and the Afghan population," which he said could perpetuate a negative image of the United States in the Muslim world.

He went on to express an urgent need to move forward with a plan that involves local and national Afghan leaders, adding only they can accomplish many of the national goals.

"We should implement these steps before considering an increase in U.S. ground combat forces beyond what is already planned by the end of this year," he concluded.

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