Decision for political rather than military needs
Barack Obama is set to reject military advice from the Pentagon by announcing on Wednesday the withdrawal of up to 30,000 troops from Afghanistan.
The manoeuvre comes as warnings from military commanders insist that the president must keep the number of troops high until 2013, as recent security gains are fragile.
Obama will announce his intentions to have the number of troops in Afghanistan reduced by November 2013.
Both British and US commanders in Kabul have expressed disappointment in the president’s decision, alleging that the White House is being driven by political rather than military needs. The president will be fighting an election next year.
Commanders want one more full “fighting season”
“This is not something we feel entirely comfortable with”, one Whitehall official said.
In the first week of June this year there were 701 security incidences across Afghanistan, which shows the strength the Taliban still has despite a severe beating from ISAF forces this winter.
Confirmations from the White House state that the withdrawal will be “significant”. The measure is aimed at satisfying members of the public who are weary of a ten year war that has cost the US 1,522 lives. The elimination of Osama Bin Laden two months ago adds further drive for the pull out.
Nato commanders led by General David Petraeus have clearly set out the risks involved with rushing the pull out. Obama has been warned that there has been no noticeable dividend from the killing of Bin Laden, and has been asked to allow the troops one more full “fighting season” to target insurgent leaders and strike Taliban strongholds before a drawdown starts next year.
One official said: “They say they need another full year for this. They want as much as possible for as long as possible”.
Deep divisions in Washington have been created by Obama’s decision.