General John Campbell told the Senate Armed Services Committee that, in his opinion, the United States should maintain a presence in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, as Politico reports:
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is recommending a change in President Barack Obama’s plans of drawing down nearly all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.
Army Gen. John Campbell told a Senate panel Tuesday he has given the president options that would diverge from the current plan to withdraw all U.S. troops beyond an embassy presence in Kabul after 2016.
“Based on conditions on the ground,” Campbell said, “I do believe that we have to provide our senior leadership options different than the current plan we’re on, absolutely.”
Analyses keep changing, of course, but Campbell’s comments may be evidence that the White House is reconsidering the complete withdrawal promised by the end of President Obama’s tenure. During his remarks, Campbell acknowledged
that ISIS is more established in Afghanistan than he said they were when he appeared before Congress in February. ISIS militants are locked in a struggle with the Taliban, and the Afghan government has promised to go after both groups simultaneously.
Obama’s rationale for doubling down on Afghanistan in the first place was that it was where the terrorists were. Given that the terrorists are still there, it may be difficult for him to justify a withdrawal. But our presence has lately caused a controversy, too. At the hearing, the general was also under fire for last weekend’s attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital, which Campbell called a “mistake” but declined to discuss further. However you slice it, the whole situation doesn’t look good for the United States. As WRM wrote
yesterday, the Pentagon is, at this point, “running a vast, multi-country war effort that has become unhinged from any serious strategic vision.” The uncertainty about our policy in Afghanistan is part and parcel of that failure.