Pentagon: Wait Til Fall 2012 to End Afghanistan Surge

Military pushes for slow withdrawal as Obama weighs next move

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 17, 2011 7:13 AM CDT

(Newser) – The military has called on President Obama to keep the Afghanistan troop surge in place until the fall of next year, ensuring that many of the 33,000 extra troops remain in the country for the next two fighting seasons, when the weather is warm. The military wants to avoid a 2012 scenario in which it loses large numbers of troops just as militants are becoming most active, the Wall Street Journal reports. The move would come with a political perk for Obama: Many troops would be coming home just before the 2012 election.

Obama has urged a July drawdown of an unspecified numbers of troops, and his decision on when to end the surge will likely come this month. Officials have said they expect 3,000 to 5,000 troops to exit next month, with another 5,000 returning in the autumn. Outgoing defense secretary Robert Gates backs the military’s call for a slow withdrawal, as do some analysts. “Trying to draw down forces in the middle of a fight is counterproductive,” notes one. But some Obama allies are pushing for a quicker pullout, including Joe Biden and Senate Armed Forces Chair Carl Levin.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates listens to a question during a media availability at the Pentagon Thursday, June 16, 2011 in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
In this May 21, 2011 photo, U.S. troops participate in a briefing in Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Deb Riechmann)
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