Sen. John McCain offered mild praise of the President's decision to keep more troops than planned in Afghanistan into 2017, while Rep. Mac Thornberry bemoaned the decision to keep troops without boosting defense spending.
WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – Senate Armed Services chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) offered mild praise of the President’s decision Wednesday to keep more troops than planned in Afghanistan into 2017, while House Armed Services chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) bemoaned the possibility of keeping troops without boosting defense spending.
“I welcome President Obama’s decision to reverse his previous plan to drawdown U.S. forces in Afghanistan,” McCain said in a written statement. “While I believe conditions on the ground warranted retaining the current force level, the decision to retain 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan into next year is certainly preferable to cutting those forces by nearly half.”
Thornberry demanded that the White House immediately submit a supplemental funding request to accommodate the new planned troop levels.
“The precision of the President’s new Afghanistan Troop Cap would be comical were its consequences not so tragic for our mission and military readiness,” Thornberry said in a written statement. ” … For all of the bluster about funding troops in harm’s way, it is the President who proposes to extend the vital mission without any resources behind it.
McCain also questioned why the administration chose to reduce the troop count by 1,400 individuals.
“When the President himself describes the security situation in Afghanistan as ‘precarious,’ it is difficult to discern any strategic rationale for withdrawing 1,400 U.S. troops by the end of the year,” McCain said.
President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. will keep 8,400 troops in Afghanistan through the end of 2016, changing course from a plan to drop that number to 5,500 before his successor enters office and takes the reins of the nation’s longest running war. There are currently near 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Asked Wednesday how the White House plans to account for the additional cost of the troops, a senior Administration official said that the Administration will work with Congress to reconcile the cost.
“Now what we will do is we will engage and discuss with Congress about how to ensure that we’re providing the necessary support for the mission,” the official said. “And in the past, we’ve always been able to work collaboratively with Congress to provide the necessary support for our efforts in Afghanistan.”
Another senior Administration official said that the 8,400 number was reached after evaluating recommendations from U.S. commanders and the state of the Afghan security forces.
“We took a look at the dynamic security environment in Afghanistan, we took a look at the Afghan national security forces’ capabilities and where they were, and we also looked at in the short term their performance over the last two fighting seasons,” the official said. “And so capturing all of those lessons learned, we came to the decision and recommendation to maintain at 8,400.”