Decision Time in Afghanistan: Details on Transition Needed

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–June 13, 2011.  As Congressional interest in the direction and cost of the war in Afghanistan increases with the impending decision on U.S. troop withdrawal from the White House, the Center for American Progress released the issue brief, “Decision Time in Afghanistan: Obama Administration Needs to Put Details on Transition Plan,” calling for a significant drawdown in American troops, beginning this summer, to total no fewer than 15,000 forces.

This reduction would realign our investments in Afghanistan to better reflect the full range of American national security priorities and signal that Afghan leadership must prepare to take on greater responsibility for their security, as well as political and economic affairs. This initial drawdown should be part of an overall approach that includes a medium-term plan to withdraw 60,000 troops over the next 18 months, leaving 40,000 remaining in the country by the end of 2012.

Further, this issue brief highlights that troop numbers are not a substitute for a broader strategy and it recommends lawmakers focus on broader questions to guide policy discussions on U.S. strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. Defining U.S. objectives in Afghanistan, providing more detail on the political and military transition process and determining our future relations with the Afghan government, is critical to ensuring that U.S. implementing departments and agencies can prioritize effectively. These crucial policy questions include the following:

  • What are our goals?
  • What will happen when we withdraw?
  • What’s our plan for handing over power?
  • What is the plan for the Afghan government to take financial responsibility for the Afghan national security forces?
  • What are the United States’ top priorities for a strategic partnership agreement with the Afghan government beyond 2014?
  • What steps are we taking to broaden Afghan public support and ensure sustainability of the Afghan political system?

Whether clarity on these issues come in the form of a full report to Congress or a more limited presidential speech, Congress and the American public will be better able to judge progress in the region.

To read the full brief, click here.