Armed Services Leaders Split on Afghanistan Decision

Republican leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees pushed out conflicting statements on Wednesday following President Obama’s announcement that the United States will maintain some 8,400 troops in Afghanistan through the end of his term in office. SASC Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he welcomed the decision to reverse the previous drawdown plan, saying “conditions on the ground warranted retaining the current force level.” But he questioned Obama’s “strategic rationale” for continuing to withdraw 1,400 US troops by the end of the year even though the President referred to the security situation in Afghanistan as “precarious.” On the other hand, HASC Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) blasted the announcement, saying the decision “would be comical were its consequences not so tragic for our mission and military readiness.” Thornberry said there is not room in the budget “for the troops he is committing.” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he recommended the 8,400 troop level after consulting with senior military leaders, saying it “will enhance our ability to continue progress on our two central missions in Afghanistan.” Carter said, “The United States has maintained a steadfast commitment to our Afghan partners, and President Obama’s decision today is firmly in keeping with that enduring commitment.”