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Levin Wants to Limit ‘Military Footprint’ in Afghanistan

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) on Friday called for a surge of Afghan forces to defeat the Taliban insurgents and avoid the need for more U.S. troops, a stance that runs counter to the Obama administration’s inclination to send additional American soldiers into the battle for Afghanistan. “What we must do if we’re going to succeed in Afghanistan is focus on the strength of the Afghan forces,— Levin said at a press conference, noting there is a “significant number of people in the country that have questions about deepening our involvement in Afghanistan.— Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Congress lacks the will to back another round of troop increases to Afghanistan. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), however, maintained Democrats are supportive of President Barack Obama’s plan to fight terrorists in Afghanistan.Military leaders, led by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, are expected to request 40,000 additional U.S. troops to fight the resurgent Taliban. Levin outlined his recommendations for Afghanistan in a floor speech Friday, the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Armed Services chairman traveled to Afghanistan over the August break and this week outlined his recommendations in a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is also slated to meet next week with Vice President Joseph Biden. “Afghanistan’s people are grateful for our aid but also eager to assume responsibility for their future,— Levin said in his floor speech. “Our support of their surge will show our commitment to the success of a mission that is clearly in our national security interest, without creating a bigger U.S. military footprint that provides propaganda fodder for the Taliban.—Levin also noted that a Republican-led hold remains over Army Secretary nominee John McHugh. McHugh is the subject of a hold by Kansas GOP Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, who want assurances from Obama that detainees at the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, prison will not be transferred to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.“Discussions were under way between the administration and the Senators with the holds,— Levin said. “We’ve done everything we can do to remove the holds. I hope we can get to this nomination next week. It’s overdue.—

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