Graham blasts Afghan deadlines

June 17, 2010 at 12:35 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 17 (UPI) -- Lawmakers aren't convinced that the military plans for Afghanistan are the best course of action, U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham told military leaders.

U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, testified before Senate Armed Services Committee on the progress of the war effort under way in Afghanistan.

U.S. President Barack Obama in his revised war strategy called for an influx of American troops into Afghanistan but noted military forces could begin leaving the country as early as next summer.

Top Pentagon officials have called for patience as many of the 30,000 U.S. troops that are slated for the Afghan surge have yet to arrive in the country.

Petraeus said war plans were moving in the right direction but cautioned that the July 2011 deadline didn't mean everyone "is headed for exits," the U.S. military quoted the general as saying.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., expressed concern that standing by the July 2011 date gave insurgents the time they needed to plan activities in the wake of the troop withdrawal.

Graham, R-S.C., expressed concern that Taliban were "encouraged" by withdrawal deadlines.

Petraeus defended his strategy by saying insurgents in Afghanistan were "under greater pressure than at anytime before."

Graham, before abruptly leaving the hearing, said he thought the current Afghan strategy was "a huge mistake."

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