March 22 - General John Allen tells Congress the United States will need ''significant combat power'' in Afghanistan in 2013. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
General John Allen, who leads US and NATO forces in Afghanistan told Congress Thursday that they US will need quote "significant combat power" in Afghanistan in 2013. As debate heats up in Washington about the pace of the American exit from the more than decade-long war, Sen. John McCain asked about force levels in Afghanistan next year. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GENERAL JOHN ALLEN: "My opinion is that we will need significant combat power in 2013," (SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: "Like 68,000?" (SOUNDBITE) (English) GENERAL JOHN ALLEN: "Sixty-eight thousand is a good going-in number sir, but I owe the president some analysis on that." The United States now plans to remove all of President Barack Obama's 33,000 "surge" troops from Afghanistan by October 2012, leaving around 68,000 troops on the ground. Under a plan endorsed by NATO nations and the Afghan government, local forces will gradually take over and most foreign combat troops will be gone by the end of 2014. Some leading Republicans are pressing the White House to keep a larger number of troops in Afghanistan, where a series of public setbacks over the past month has raised questions about the U.S. course there. Many of Obama's fellow Democrats prefer an accelerated exit from a long, costly war. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters