To-be-commander Dunford sees existence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan post 2014 drawdown
The next to-be-commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan said that he foresees maintaining American forces and equipment in the country after international contingents leave by the end of 2014.
But Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford made it clear that his job will be to close down an unpopular war that is in its 12th year.
"With continued focus and commitment, I believe our goals are achievable," Dunford said.
Dunford, the second-ranking Marine at the Pentagon, is expected to win quick confirmation this month to succeed Marine Gen. John R. Allen as the top general in Afghanistan, The Washington Post reports.
According to the paper, over the next two years, Dunford would oversee the scaling down of the 68,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the handoff to Afghans of primary responsibility for fighting the Taliban and the remnants of Al-Qaeda.
The plan set by Obama, NATO allies and Afghan President Hamid Karzai calls for handing over primary responsibility for combat and security to Afghan forces next year and removing all American and other foreign combat troops by the end of 2014: goals which are reasonable, Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee, the paper said.
Dunford however ducked questions from Democrats and Republicans about whether he wants to draw down forces gradually, as the White House prefers, or in a sudden exit near the deadline, the paper added.