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Military Asks Obama To Extend Troop Surge In Afghanistan

Ryan Faughnder |
June 17, 2011 | 9:20 a.m. PDT

Senior News Editor

The end of the U.S.'s longest war may happen even more slowly than aniticipated if the Pentagon has its way. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the military is asking President Barack Obama to extend the troop increase of 33,000 until 2012. This would be a change to Obama's original promise, which was to begin the withdrawal of troops in July 2011. 

(U.S. Army)
(U.S. Army)

This comes just days after a team of 29 senators co-signed a letter to the president urging him to speed up the withdrawal. The letter cited the fact that most al-Qaeda operations have moved to neighboring Pakistan. A March poll showed that two thirds of Americans felt the war was no longer worth fighting. The recent killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan brought up even more questions about the U.S.'s continued fighting in Afghanistan, since his capture or death has always been stated as one of the mission's primary goals.

The news of the Pentagon's request is agitating those who want the U.S. to pull out, especially given that the president has never been clear about the percentage of the 100,000 troops he plans the withdraw and at what pace.

From the Associated Press:

The United States plans on leaving only a "small fraction" of the overall forces after December 2014, when security will be handed over to the Afghans.

He promised to begin withdrawing troops this July but the White House has yet to say how many troops it will be pulling out or when, insisting such decisions will be based on conditions on the ground, where troops have been battling the Taliban for nearly a decade.

Questions over whether the $2 billion-per-week war is worth fighting coincide with growing concerns about the U.S.'s ever-increasing budget deficits. 

Obama is expected to speak next week about the troop reductions and the eventual drawdown of the war. As Wired's Danger Room reports, those talks are beginning to look more and more like lip service. The U.S. could be training the Afghan military until 2017, if one U.S. general's assessment is accurate. 

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