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Obama's Afghan troop reduction move 'more aggressive than recommended': Petraeus

June 24, 2011 - Washington

US President Barack Obama's decision to withdraw 33000 troops from Afghanistan has evoked mixed responses from top military officials in the country.

The highest ranking military advisor to the President and the commanding general of the US forces in Afghanistan have reportedly told Congress that Obama's decision was a more aggressive move than recommended, Fox News reports.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen said that although the president has his support, his 'decisions are more aggressive and incur more risk than I was originally prepared to accept.'

"The ultimate decision was a more aggressive formulation than what we had recommended," David Petraeus, who is likely to become the new CIA Director, was quoted as saying.

General Petraeus said that over the past month he had a series of meetings with the president during which he recommended a number of different options for reducing the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, each with its own risk assessments.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon, said the President's decision 'could jeopardize the hard-won gains our troops and allies have made over the past 18 months and potentially the safety of the remaining forces.' He added the announcement sends a signal to the enemy 'who will now believe they can wait out the departure of U.S. forces and return to their strongholds.'

The White House has also drawn criticism from Democrats who say the troop cut plans are not substantial.

"What are those 70,000 remaining troops going to do? I thought since we have trained all these Afghans, we turn it over to them," the report quoted Democratic senator, Barbera Boxer, as saying.

President Obama says his plan is to have most U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, when security operations will be handed to the Afghan government. But Pentagon officials acknowledge that some American forces will stay in Afghanistan for some more time.


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