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article imageMullen: Only a few US troops will leave Afghanistan in 2011

By Andrew Moran     Dec 3, 2009 in Politics
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen recent stated in an interview that the July 2011 withdrawal is only a start date and that only a "few" US soldiers will be going home.
This week, U.S. President Barack Obama announced his decision to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, making the total of number of US combat forces in the region to at least 100,000. The President assured the general public that there will be a withdrawal, which will commence in July 2011.
However, according to AFP, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen believes it will only be a few who will go home in that year because it’s just the beginning of the withdrawal phase.
In an interview with CBS News, Mullen said, “It's very clear that the president has given us guidance that in July of 2011, we'll start to transition security responsibility to the Afghan national security forces. There's no determination of how long that will take... There's no specific guidance with respect to how many. It could be very few; it could be a large number.”
On Wednesday, Mullen testified before on Congress to discuss the surge and strategy for the war in Afghanistan. Many Republican lawmakers are upset over the President’s withdrawal date because, according to many prominent Republican leaders, it gives the enemy a time frame.
Former 2008 Republican Presidential candidate asked Mullen on Wednesday if the date will contradict the counterinsurgency principles in Afghanistan, reports the Washington Independent. Mullen responded that the military will have indicators on the progress in Afghanistan, “We start transitioning … it’s not a date that we’re leaving.”
Politico reports, in a vehement response to a question from Indiana Republican Representative Mike Pence, Mullen told legislators that he requested 20,000 troops to the region between 2008 and the present but was rejected by the White House.
Democrats are also upset with the President’s plan but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, said, reports USA Today, “I do not believe we have locked ourselves into leaving. What we have done … is to signal very clearly that the United States is not interested in occupying Afghanistan.”
Gallup released a poll on Wednesday that shows 35 per cent of the American public supports the way Obama is handling the war in Afghanistan, which is down 14 points from September, notes The Hill.
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