Monday, September 14, 2009

Wire: More in Congress Question Obama's Afghanistan Policy

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2009 -- Newswire services yesterday reported that skepticism over the Obama administration's plans for Afghanistan mounted Sunday as four senators questioned whether more troops should be deployed there and one lawmaker called for a withdrawal timeline.

Democrats Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Diane Feinstein of California and Dick Durbin of Illinois along with Republican Susan Collins of Maine said they shared colleagues' concerns about boosting troop levels before substantial bolstering of the Afghan military and police, The Associated Press reported.

"I just don't know that more troops is the answer. We clearly need more American civilians to help build up institutions. We need to grow the size of the Afghan army. But we're dealing with widespread corruption, a very difficult terrain, and I'm just wondering where this ends and how we'll know if this succeeded," said Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, AP said.

The committee chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., has urged the White House to avoid escalating the war and speed up training for Afghan security forces instead of sending more U.S. troops into combat.

Shaheen, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said she wants more information on the administration's Afghanistan policy from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces there. He recently submitted a broad review of Afghan strategy to President Barack Obama.

Feinstein, who leads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she supported training the Afghan security forces but did not believe U.S. goals in Afghanistan had been outlined clearly.

Feinstein called for a specific date for the withdrawal of American forces.

Shaheen, Feinstein and Collins senators spoke on CNN's "State of the Union." Durbin spoke on NBC's "Meet the Press."

(Report from newswire sources.)

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