The just-retired Marine Corps commandant says he doubts the U.S. military can withdraw from Afghanistan’s volatile south by a July 2011 deadline set by President Obama for the start of force reductions.
In an interview before his retirement Friday, Gen. James Conway said troops may be able to be pulled from elsewhere in Afghanistan by the deadline. The majority of U.S. forces engaged in a troop surge ordered by Obama are fighting in the south.
“Counterinsurgencies just take time,” Conway said. “I hope the focus is not … time constraints as much as it is the will to win.”
Marines have been spearheading offensive operations in Helmand province, a sprawling region of villages and opium farms in the south. The Army and other coalition forces have been pushing Taliban fighters out of Kandahar province for months.
“There’s still significant fighting in both places and both places represent the birthplaces of the Taliban,” Conway said.
Both campaigns are central to the White House’s strategy to seize the initiative from the Taliban. The strategy is backed by a surge of an additional 30,000 U.S. troops, bringing U.S. troops levels to 100,000. […] go read the rest
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