Petraeus: Combat troops will likely be part of July drawdown
March 16th, 2011
11:36 AM ET

Petraeus: Combat troops will likely be part of July drawdown

Initial troop drawdowns in Afghanistan this July will probably include the withdrawal of combat troops, the commander of international and US forces in Afghanistan told house lawmakers on Wednesday.

Speaking to lawmakers at a House Armed Services Committee about the progress of the war in Afghanistan, Petraeus said he is "still formulating the options that he will provide to the president", but believes that combat forces will be included in that recommendation.

Petraeus told senators that he supported the July 2011 drawdown date when he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday.

The four-star general told both committees over the two days that progress is being made in getting Taliban fighters to walk away from the insurgency. In recent months, 700 former mid- and lower-level Taliban have officially reintegrated with Afghan authorities, and about 2,000 more are in the process of reintegration, according to Petraeus.

A couple thousand more have "informally reconciled," returning home to their villages and laying down their weapons, he estimated on Tuesday.

At the group's peak, 25,000 Taliban may be active at a given time, but with the spring fighting season just beginning, it is too early to tell what their numbers are like now, Petraeus told the committee Wednesday.

"There's also no question that these are resilient organizations, and that they can find others to put into these positions," Petraeus said. He added there has been "quite a replacement of Taliban leaders in recent months," both because senior leaders have been upset by battlefield performance in Afghanistan and because in some cases the leaders "literally have enough of it" and take themselves out of the fight voluntarily.

More than the Taliban however, the Haqqani insurgent network is challenging, according to Petraeus, with senior leadership very unlikely to reconcile with the Afghanistan government.

Corruption was also a hot topic at the hearing, with many of the lawmakers questioning the general on the problem in Afghanistan society.

Criminal patronage networks, which Petraeus defined as individuals breaking the law in substantial ways by enjoying a degree of political protection and support, are a cancer in Afghanistan, Petraeus said. A U.S. task force in conjunction with the Karzai government is in place to go after these networks, but the general admitted all corruption could not be wiped out in the country.

"We are not, of course, trying to turn Afghanistan into Switzerland in a decade or less." Petraeus said "We are after what is, in a sense, good enough for Afghanistan".

Petraeus injected a personal note into the hearing, telling the lawmakers that his son completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan that was kept quiet.

"You know, I may not be at this table, probably won't be, at 2015, but I'll tell you that my son is in uniform, and Lieutenant Petraeus just completed a tour in Afghanistan, which thankfully we were able to keep very quiet, and redeployed in November after serving as an infantry platoon leader," he said. "We're very proud of what he did. He thinks he was doing something very important."

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Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Petraeus • Troops
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. j

    I agree with Delta. I'm in Afghanistan. Our government wastes entirely too much money on contractors doing a crappy job in support of our troops. Millions! Only if taxpayers knew what thier taxes were going for. Our government would rather pay salary 3 times as much to a foreign national and lazy american before giving it to the military person who is risking thier lives on/off the base where these clowns work at. Afghan first is the rule here. Amazing. 90% of the foreign nationals working on a US installation don't speak english and don't care about the mission. The lazy americans who come over as a contractor are just soaking up the money and provide less par support. But, the politicians would rather be able to say they are decreasing the troops. It's just a numbers game. Bring home a hard working troop for an overpaid foreign national or contractor who won't pick up a gun. The contractor company has 5000 FLUOR employees who our government pays millions of dollars to with 90% non-americans. Rid the horrible FLUOR contract and go all-american if we are going to be here. There's some truth for you straight from an American troop who is here in Afghanistan.

    March 29, 2011 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      US soldiers cannot do the work you are claming about. You care just money, but you have to have some qualities to earn that money. Politicians chose the workers using some criteria.

      March 31, 2011 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. Dindy

    May God give Guidance to superiors!!

    March 17, 2011 at 4:50 am | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Yhe ptoblem is they pretend to give guidance to God.

      March 19, 2011 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
  3. pamiri

    I am and we are cordially indebted of what the international forces which is leading by USA have had done for since they came to Afghanistan and we thank them and we pray for all those families, who sacrifice their lives to protect the people and humanity from the brutality and violence of Taliban against the humanity, women, children , whitebeards. We all never forget the Stone Age time, during the Taliban, during the Taliban when they occupied Kabul all the playgrounds were using By Taliban as a human slaughtering ground, they killed many innocent women, and men in these playground.

    But there are raising many questions that in which face and in which dialogue and by which purpose the international forces misleading by Karzai to share the power with Taliban, although the Taliban is killing many many innocent on daily bases in Afghanistan and we all are the eye witness of that, still either the international forces and civil society is ignoring that, we the people who live in Afghanistan do not want to lose the achievement of democracy for the Taliban, even in very bad situation the people were fighting and defending against Taliban, but now we have all the world with us and Karzai is misleading the international forces to bring back the Taliban on power, the People do not want that.

    The big mistake of the international forces is that they rely on Karzai and they chose him as leader of the country, though he is just the leader of Taliban and Aqeada, Karzai does affairs against the public benefit but not against the enemies of the country.

    from Kabul

    March 16, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dindy

      Pamiri ..It is really bad if Karzai is like that after all the sacrifice done by Afghan people and Int forces. what is the best solution for this new situation of corruption?

      March 17, 2011 at 4:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. Montezuma

    "Informally reconciled." Hmmm.....wonder just how bona fide THAT will be. I doubt it will be wise to trust ANYthing ANY member, of ANY status announces. I bet there will never be any PAST members of the taliban.

    My understanding of their brutal agenda is that if at all possible they will come over here to slit out throats given ANY opportunity to do so.

    March 16, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • sherri

      Which is why an isolationist policy where our soldiers just worry about protecting our borders and nation. I think as Americans that any Taliban that tried to slit our throats on our home turf would have a bit of a hard time hiding that agenda here. Although certain parts of the US would probably say it is OK to use this as some form of freedom of expression.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sherri

    Glad they are talking about bringing them home but find it a bunch of BS that it is so conveniently close to reelection time. Just like there were already plans for withdrawing troops from Iraq and Obama claimed " I will bring our troops home". Meanwhile, these troops came home and then went back to the mideast to Afghanistan.
    I want to know why more Americans are not screaming to high heaven to stop the BS and bring our troops home period and let them stay stateside and take care of our own borders. Yes, I believe in being isolationist in our stance to the rest of the world. I firmly believe in doing away with foreign alliances period!

    March 16, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      I agree with you sherri- The US should reduce the military operations and limit them to control the international waters to mantain the free navigation, wich is our legitimate economic interest.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. cput

    Ya, that is good news – but only if those remaining are safe. Bring our soldiers home.

    March 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. andrew lubin

    He better not take any combat troops out. Unless he counts the 25,000 and 16,000 REMF's sitting at Bagram and Kandahar...

    March 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Riza Afghan

      u better read news daily.
      Kandahar is cleaned already by int forces. left Helmand and some other small districts ;)

      March 18, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |