February 9th, 2011
11:19 AM ET

Congressman: Small withdrawal of U.S. forces in July

A senior Congressman just back from Afghanistan painted an upbeat picture of military operations there, but predicted only a small number of U.S. forces will be withdrawn this summer.

"I don't expect we're going to see a big withdrawal of troops at that time," said Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

"We asked the question several times, receiving no answer other than any withdrawal will be based on conditions on the ground."

During the trip, McKeon and two other Congressmen met with Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. They also met with U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and various NATO and U.S. military officials.

McKeon did not specify whom they questioned about the troop withdrawals.

The Obama administration has said it will begin drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan in July, with the goal of all U.S. military personnel out in four years.

McKeon, a Republican from California, said the emphasis was on the 2014 full-withdrawal date.

"There was no indication of any set number, or type of troops, or MOS (Military Occupational Specialty), whatever, that would be pulled out in July. I think they are just waiting to see what happens in the spring offensive and they will make plans as we get closer to July," McKeon said.

McKeon, briefed reporters in Washington Tuesday afternoon, just hours after he arrived from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He said he was impressed that he and the two Congressmen he traveled with could walk down a central market street without body armor in the Marjah district of southern Afghanistan, which had been a hotbed of insurgent activity.

"Everywhere we went, things were really upbeat and I know I feel much better about the situation there," McKeon said

Rep. John Kline - a Republican from Minnesota - also said he was impressed by the progress he saw in Afghanistan.

"It was remarkable, as chairman McKeon said, that we were able to walk down the street in Marjah and visit with shopkeepers in a place where there was very heavy fighting only a year ago," Kline said.

Kline, who is chairman of the House Education Committee, cut the ribbon at the opening of a new school for 500 children.

"We spent two days in Afghanistan, travelling north and south, and we never wore body armor - which it just to me absolutely amazing we could do that, walk around amongst the Afghans without body armor," Kline said.

Neither Congressman offered details on what security was provided for them in Marjah apart from the U.S. military accompanying them throughout.

A Congressional staff member on the trip told CNN that he was sure there had been an advance patrol and maintenance of an outer security bubble for the Marjah visit but the staffer said there was no sign of an overwhelming military force in or around the market and no evidence of combat vehicles or aircraft.

CNN was unable to get any further information from the military.

A U.S. military official said no special security arrangements were necessary for the market walk.

"Aside from a Marine foot-patrol, there was nothing that was done differently security-wise," said Lt. Alex Lim, a public affairs officer.

"There were no roof-top snipers, attack helicopters, or armored Humvees. The shops remained open and no roads were blocked off. We don't dictate its closure anyway. We had a routine Marine foot-patrol that escorted the guests through the market place just like they would on a normal day," Lim told CNN via e-mail.

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Spiro T.Agnew

    @The Wife. Thank you for your comments here. If it weren't for people like you,I'd never have been elected to public office. Ignorance truly is bliss!!!

    February 9, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      What did You run as the Tea Party??? Because the way You talk You belong with Them!!!

      February 10, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dan from Detroit, MI

    People like "The Wife" make me sick by vomiting their ignorance here. Actually,we have no right whatsoever to even be in Afghanistan at all. It seems that the American people have lost their moral compass if they ever had one to begin with.

    February 9, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan from Chicago, IL

      And you Phony boy have any morals supporting the Taliban and their Terrorists allies who would have again taken control of Afghanistan and terrorize their people and publicly murdering them in the streets and arenas if we did not continue our effort to kill or capture the Taliban and al Qaeda!

      February 9, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • Spiro T.Agnew

        Very well put,Dan. You're a man after my own heart. The dumber,the better!

        February 10, 2011 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
      • Dan from Chicago, IL

        Whatever Phony boy!

        February 10, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dindy..

        Good post Dan,

        February 12, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      That is where You are completely wrong... When They attacked Our Country it gave us the right!!!

      February 10, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shamrock6

    Rep.Howard "Buck"McKeon,another right-wing thug in Washington! No wonder this country's in trouble!!!

    February 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      That's what I used to be before I wised up and I'm glad I did. Now I see things quite clearly and can distinguish right from wrong which I couldn't do back in the 1950's. I did what I could do then just to get ahead.

      February 9, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Wife

      Shamrock6 – What's your deal with Buck? He was doing his job. He went to see the progress for himself. Our efforts in Afghanistan are succeeding and we should be glad that our Congressmen are going to see and experience the success for themselves.

      February 9, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Hey folks,don't pay any attention to "The Wife" as she is still wallowing in her ignorance just like I did on Capitol Hill back in the 1950's. Some people never wise up!!!

        February 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Wife – if you married a serial killer you are harboring a terrorist and can be a target.

        February 10, 2011 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
      • The Wife

        Salerno – We are all targets. Thanks for your concern though. I'll keep it under advisement.

        February 10, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      I live where He is in Congress!!! How do You think I feel??? I didn't vote for Him...

      February 10, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        Joseph McCarthy: You are the Stupid one not Her!!! She should be proud that Her Husband is defending This Country!!!

        February 10, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
      • LarryKegel(US Army)

        Sorry Joseph,I didn't post the above. Of course you're the wise one but some people don't want to see the light and the folly of our fighting this useless war. We don't even have a right to be there!!!

        February 11, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  4. Gary Johndro


    February 9, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      Is that all You can say???

      February 10, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dindy..


        February 10, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |