US troops hope Obama plan will wind down war - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

US troops hope Obama plan will wind down war

FORWARD OPERATING BASE AIRBORNE, Afghanistan. - U.S. service members in Afghanistan are welcoming President Barack Obama's decision to send in 30,000 more troops.
     
They're hopeful it will allow them to get back home sooner, but they know that will depend on whether the reinforcements can build up the Afghan army to protect civilians against the Taliban.

"As soon as the Afghans can do it on their own without our help, we can go home,"  said an Air Force sergeant on his fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. He added the Afghans are inexperienced but determined.

A sergeant with the Army's 10th Mountain Division questions whether Afghan forces will be ready in 18 months, the time frame set by Obama for starting to withdraw U.S. troops and a civil affairs officer says more troops mean nothing unless they can give local Afghans a sense of perceived security. He says the reason the surge worked in Iraq is because troops were able to get into the field and make Iraqis feel safer.
     
The men were interviewed at a base west of Kabul.

Gates: US cannot cede Afghanistan to Taliban below...

U.S. Army Pvt. John Stafinski fires his squad automatic weapon into an anti-Afghan forces location during a firefight in Waterpur Valley, Kunar province, Afghanistan, Nov. 3, 2009.

Gates: US cannot cede Afghanistan to Taliban

If the U.S. fails in Afghanistan, the Taliban will take over that country.
     
That warning comes from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who went before a Senate panel Wednesday to defend the decision of President Barack Obama to send 30,000 additional U.S. troops there.
     
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is calling the Obama administration's newly announced surge-and-exit strategy in Afghanistan "the best way to protect our nation now and in the future."
     
In testimony for the Senate panel, Clinton also maintained that the strategy overhaul that Obama has announced was badly needed in the wake of the time and energy the U.S. has spent in recent years in Iraq.

Democratic committee chairman Carl Levin said the influx will mean more U.S. Marines on Afghan streets, with "too few Afghan partners alongside them."

The man who lost last year's presidential election is raising concerns about the announcement of a withdrawal date for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
     
Republican Sen. John McCain says it's a mistake to signal in advance to the nation's enemies when U.S. troops will leave.

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