August 24th, 2010
03:15 PM ET

Marine boss: It'll be 'years' before Afghans take over

It will be a "few years" before U.S. forces in Afghanistan can turn over full responsibility for security operations to Afghan troops, the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps said Tuesday.

"I think it will be a few years before conditions on the ground are such that we would expect to be able to turn it over to the Afghan forces," Gen. James Conway told reporters at the Pentagon. "And I think there's a mindset that needs to accompany that on the part of our Marines, that it may be awhile."

President Barack Obama has ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops to begin in less than a year, although he has not said how many will withdraw or at what pace they will leave when the July 2011 deadline arrives.

Conway said for now, that deadline is making it tough for Marines in Afghanistan.

"We think right now it's probably giving our enemy sustenance. We think he may be saying to himself - in fact, we've intercepted communications saying 'Hey, you know, we only have to hold out for so long!'" the general said.

But, he added, the pendulum may swing in the United States' favor when the Taliban leadership sees that U.S. troops are not leaving en masse.

"What is he going to say to his foot troops where you've got the leadership outside the country trying to direct operations within because it's too dangerous for them to be there, and the foot troops have been believing what he's saying - that they're (U.S. forces) all going to leave in the summer of next year, and come the fall, we're still there hammering them like we have been. I think it could be very good for us, in that context, in terms of the enemy's psyche," Conway explained.

As one of his officers said, the general recounted, "either lose fast or win slow."

Conway said the Marines are already working with Afghan forces to get them ready for the day the turn-over does happen.

"We're partnering right now, almost on every patrol, with Afghan security forces when we go out," he said in what may be his last briefing before his expected retirement in the fall. "The time that we're there, the shaping operation is in a transition for the entire time, transitioning host nation forces to the point where they can do those things."

Even though he is leaving, he predicted that in the future, the Marine Corps that he has served for more than 40 years will soon get smaller.

"I think in time, after Afghanistan, that 202,000 Marines in a peacetime Marine Corps is probably too many. People are expensive. I don't know that we could keep 202,000 Marines constructively occupied."

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Smith in Oregon

    It appears to be well established that Osama bin Ladin was on the CIA payroll at least 10 years from 1980-1990 to train and equip Pakistan Taliban fighters against the Soviet Army in Afghanistan.

    Osama bin Ladin was 'supposedly' linked to financing the embassy bombings in Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, 1998). In the specific embassy bombings it is entirely and totally connected to an Egyptian Islamic Jihad group and at most might have been associated with Ayman al-Zawahiri who had been previously imprisoned in Egypt over his purported links to Egyptian Islamic militants and the assassination of Anwar Sadat the Egyptian ruler. To outright claim Osama bin Ladin caused the embassy bombings in Africa is a outright lie, propaganda. He wasn't in those countrys, his only connection with Egyptian Islam militants is Ayman al-Zawahiri. And yet, it appears some agency marked Osama bin Ladin for death after the US Embassy bombings, even thou it is entirely questionable who financed the US Embassy bombings in Africa.

    Who then pressured former President Bill Clinton to pull the plug on supporting Osama bin Ladin and for Clinton to order a multiple cruise missile attack on Osama bin Ladin's training camp and upon his known location? One day he's on the CIA payroll, the next he is marked for death using multi-million dollar cruise missiles and the reason 'floated' for the 180 degree turn-around to the American public is that Osama bin Ladin 'appeared' to have financed the US Embassy bombings in Africa.

    French advisors and security agents were among those in Osama bin Ladin's location and the U.S. State Dept. notified French officials of the impending missile strike roughly 1 hour prior to their time of launch. One or more French officials immediately TOLD Osama bin Ladin of the impending missile strike and together they immediately left that area. Apparently Osama bin Ladin decided to not tell the recruits he left behind as he quietly fled.

    The 30 year and counting relationship between the utterly corrupt, depraved and nefarious Pakistani ISI and America's CIA is without question a cozy one. Although America's elected Government divorced it's relationship with Osama bin Ladin some 20 years ago, the overwhelming question is IF America's 4th. branch of Government, it's Shadow Government, DHS including the CIA severed it's relationship with Osama bin Ladin or continued using him during his remaining life and continues to use him after his death?

    Osama bin Ladin is a literal CASH COW which enabled the allegedly depraved Bush-Cheney to move nearly 1 Trillion dollars from America's Social Security coffers, replacing them with federal IOU's and creating the utterly gigantic unelected 4th. Branch of Government, Dept. of Homeland Security with 800,000 managers having top secret or higher clearance, 1.6 Million lower level employees and approximately 10,000 offices across America alone. The main DHS complex itself, is THREE times physically LARGER than the gigantic Pentagon building! If Bush jr. had succeeded in privatizing Social Security in 2005, that fund would have collapsed two years later during the Wall Street melt-down and what Bush-Cheney had previously done would have been entirely hidden and disappeared.

    August 29, 2010 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. dindy Sri lanka

    people from every where should pray for these citizens in Afghanistan.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Smith in Oregon

    President Obama's speech to the Nation on this Tuesday is at the END of this month of August. The purported content is in regards to the flagging and failing Afghanistan War which now is running a whopping 60% disapproval on America continuing to even be in Afghanistan.

    It is not unusual for American Presidents to appear before the American people to address their concerns during wartime conflicts and to assess their fears and expectations in a forthright manner. The timing of this upcoming speech however is ominous and concerning. I hope the topic is actually about the war in Afghanistan instead of another neighboring middle east country.

    August 27, 2010 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. Smith in Oregon

    A top aide to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is now at the center of a politically explosive corruption investigation. Mohammed Zia Salehi operating as the chief of administration for the Afghanistan National Security Council is apparently working for America's CIA and has been on the CIA payroll for many years according to officials both in Kabul as well as in Washington.

    President Obama's attempts to weed out corruption in Afghanistan underscores how deeply that conflicts with America's CIA operations. Many in the Obama Administration advisors as well as Afghanistan clan leaders flat-out state that the enormous amounts and level of corruption in the Hamid Karzai Afghanistan government is driving everyday Afghanistan people to join and support the Taliban Occupation Resistance fighters.

    Other prominent Afghans who American officials have said are on the C.I.A.’s payroll include the president’s half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, suspected by investigators and many around the world of being a major Heroin exporter in Afghanistan’s booming opium trade.

    Mr. Salehi was arrested by the Afghan police after, investigators say, they wiretapped him soliciting a bribe — in the form of a car for his son — in exchange for impeding an American-backed investigation into a company suspected of shipping billions of dollars out of the country for Afghan officials, drug smugglers and insurgents.

    Once in jail it appears Mr. Salehi contacted Hamid Karzai and the CIA commanders to cause his immediate release. Hamid Karzai then used his Presidental powers to limit actions by the anti-corruption investigation team.

    Over the course of the nine-year-old war, the C.I.A. has enmeshed itself in the inner workings of Afghanistan’s national security establishment. From 2002 until just last year, the C.I.A. paid the entire budget of Afghanistan’s spy service, the National Directorate of Security.

    Much of the Heroin related cash was carried by couriers flying from Kabul and Kandahar, usually to Dubai, where many Afghan officials maintain second homes and live in splendorous wealth.

    August 27, 2010 at 3:19 am | Report abuse |
  5. sonny chapman

    One more year or ten more years in Afghanistan by major U.S. Military Forces will result in the same outcome. Afghanistan needs to sort out its' own situation. The U.S. should pay the Afghani Powers that Be to allow us to base several units of Specialm Ops. & Predator Drone Squads to make life uncomfortable for elQuida in Afghanistan/Pakistan.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |

    Not quite as annoying as those from you right-wing warmongering ignoramuses! All this right-wing pro-war rants get both very old and irritating!!!

    August 25, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  7. ronvan

    How the heck did these countries survive in the past? The generals comment, probably more accurate than what we have been told, would lead you to think that without U.S. involvement they will not survive? DUH, what did they do to the russians other than to finally run them out of their country. The same is going to happen here and what changes will we see? NONE

    August 25, 2010 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |

      Yes ronvan,we need to get out of there and how!!!

      August 25, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  8. pamiri

    Karzai is a Talib and he is supporting ISI and Taliban and his Pashtuns brothers

    August 25, 2010 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. pamiri

    dear all,
    We should not expect from Taliban and from Karzai that they are going to join the government, because they are wild and they got use to do barbarism and they are bad and worsen people in the world, you can not expect from Karzai he is now under the hand of ISI, he is going to kill American soldiers than Taliban, because Taliban is his Pashtuns

    August 25, 2010 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. Smith in Oregon

    Obviously the US Military complex wants to remain in Afghanistan for the next 100 years. They do not want PEACE, cut-backs and funding cut's PERIOD. The real danger from America's Shadow Governmental agency's who were recently 'outed and exposed' by the newspapers across Islamabad, Pakistan as having directly disrupted the UN and Karzai Peace Treaty meeting taking place with Taliban's number 2 commander and over 2 dozen Taliban leaders SHOW and OUTLINE that America's CIA and other American Shadow ageny's are playing both sides of the Pakistan vs Afghanistan War while American soldiers are DIEING. How many American soldiers have died in the past 7 months because America's CIA and Pakistan's ISI agents purposely stopped that peace treaty from being signed?

    This looks like America's Shadow agency's want to keep the Heroin flowing to the Chinese Triad's (world's largest crime syndicate) AND Pakistan wants to keep India from building and obtaining the trans-Afghanistan natural gas Pipeline.

    Neither of those goals and objectives have any American Value nor are supported by American and International Laws, they appear to be entirely against American laws and America's democracy.

    August 24, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Andrew Lubin

    As always, if you want an honest answer in DC, you'll find it at 8th & I.

    August 24, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |

      Get an honest answer in Washington,D.C.? How is that possible with the MIC(military-industrial-complex) running everything???

      August 24, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bangash

    Talking of further stay on any ground is now probably not a US prerogative as Afghanistan and Pakistan, her main weapon in war on terror, have lost control over these international warriors. Any anti US in this region can now hire services of these warriors and make the US pay back for what they have been doing to others in the world politics. So the sooner this fire is put off the better it will be for the peace in the world.

    August 24, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |

    Why am I not surprised?

    August 24, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |