Wednesday, December 22, 2010

White House Afghanistan and Pakistan Report

In anticipation of the President Barack Obama’s report on Afghanistan and Pakistan, ROA’s legislative team attended the Center for a New American Security’s (CNAS) event “Responsible Transition: Securing U.S. Interests in Afghanistan Beyond 2011” early last week.

The presentation provided a fairly balanced assessment in which the speakers, LTG David Barno (Ret.), former commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, and Andrew Exum, former Army Ranger and civilian advisor to GEN Stanley McChrystal (Ret.), recommended that the key is for the U.S. to have a long-term strategic security relationship in the region and to ensure that our allies and partners in the region understand this.

When ROA asked what effects the deficit and inevitable budget cuts would have, the panel suggested that the reduction of force structure by transitioning to a residual force of about 25,000 to 30,000 as well as increasing special missions would help reduce the impact.

Further discussion revealed that there has been a lot of improvement in Afghanistan over the past year, such as in ground intelligence, and that the general forces and special operations have synced better. In President Obama’s annual report of Afghanistan and Pakistan, announced last Thursday, he also spoke about the achievements. The President stressed in his speech the importance of transition of security to the Afghan forces, increased cooperation with Pakistan, and the overarching goal to “…disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al-Qa’ida."

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