Forget Obama’s planned withdrawal, U.S. troops will have to stay in Afghanistan for years says top Marine commander
By Mail Foreign Service
Afghanistan will not be secure enough for American forces to leave for a number of years, a top U.S. Marines commander has claimed.
The assessment of the war’s progress by Commandant General James Conway will make bleak reading for Barack Obama, who planned a withdrawal due to start in July next year.
It echoed comments by overall commander General David Petraeus and other senior officers recently have said that considerable time will be needed before local troops can take over the fight.
Late last year, Obama said security conditions will determine how many forces can leave and how fast.
Conway also said intelligence intercepts suggest that Taliban fighters have been encouraged by the talk of the United States’ beginning to withdraw troops next year.
‘In some ways, we think right now it’s probably giving our enemy sustenance,’ Conway said of the 2011 deadline.
‘We think that he may be saying to himself . . . “Hey, you know, we only have to hold out for so long.”‘
However, the perception that the United States is pulling out completely is likely to work in America’s favour after the deadline passes, when Marines still are fighting insurgents.
Taliban morale is likely to drop when ‘come the fall we’re still there hammering them like we have been,’ he said.
‘I think it could be very good for us in that context, in terms of the enemy psyche,’ he said.
The Marines have been at the forefront of America’s toughest fights in the Afghanistan war, including attempts to oust the Taliban from the farming hamlets of Marjah in Helmand province.