Commander of coalition forces seeks sustained presence in Afghanistan
Washington, Jan 31: Marine General John Allen, the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, has claimed he has suggested that the White House maintain a considerable U.S. military presence through the summer fighting season.
Gen. Allen, outlining his vision for a long-term U.S. role in Afghanistan, said he has also recommended that U.S. special-operations troops be sustained to play a key role in securing next year's presidential elections here, the Wall Street Journal reports.
President Barack Obama has yet to announce a decision on how quickly he will draw down the 66,000 American troops in Afghanistan, or what military presence the U.S. will maintain after the coalition's mandate ends in December 2014, the paper said.
The president this month said he would speed up troop withdrawals, and said he would decide how quickly to do so after receiving Gen. Allen's recommendations, he added.
Gen. Allen, who is stepping down from his role as coalition commander in February, said they would like to maintain their campaign so they are as pervasive in their touch this fighting season, because this fighting season Afghans are going to be moving into the lead operationally.
Gen. Allen said they would like to be with them through the fighting season and then you'd see their numbers come down and then stabilize across the election.
Gen. Allen has recommended the U.S.-led coalition provide logistics for the election, such as transportation of electoral officials, as well as a quick-reaction force in case of a large attack, the paper further reported.
Gen. Allen awaits Senate confirmation to become the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) top military commander.
Gen. Allen declined to discuss his recommendations for a post-2014 U.S. presence, saying he wanted to give Mr. Obama all the decision space he needs.