- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
- HAYDEN: Intelligence, evidence and the case against Russia
- Ohio university quiz implies atheists are naturally smarter than Christians
- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: ‘Playing defense on the one-yard line’
- Activists vow to occupy fast-food restaurants to get higher pay
Plan sought in Oct. for U.S. exit from Afghanistan
Question of the Day
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has been ordered to submit a plan by mid-October for the initial withdrawal of American troops, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Sunday.
That plan may hinge in part on whether the latest surge in attacks continues through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Commanders are hearing that Taliban leaders might leave their fighters in the country to try to regain lost ground during the month, which begins Monday, rather than crossing the border to Pakistan, said Adm. Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman.
Adm. Mullen, who visited U.S. outposts along Afghanistan’s eastern border Sunday, also said U.S. troops are making progress in their renewed campaign against Haqqani network insurgents in havens in Pakistan. And he issued another warning that Islamabad must step up its efforts to root out those militants.
Speaking to reporters traveling with him in Afghanistan, Adm. Mullen said Marine Gen. John Allen, who has just taken over as top U.S. commander here, needs time to evaluate the combat, training and other requirements before presenting a detailed withdrawal plan.
Adm. Mullen’s comments for the first time laid out a deadline for Gen. Allen to structure the planned withdrawal of 10,000 U.S. troops by the end of the year, as announced by President Obama.
“The next month will be very telling,” said Adm. Mullen, noting that often the Taliban leaders will travel back to Pakistan for Ramadan. It’s unclear at this point what they will do, or if there will be any decline in the fighting.
U.S. military leaders have said they plan to shift resources and perhaps some troops to the eastern border in the coming months, and Adm. Mullen said commanders he met with along the eastern border said the strategy is working.
“The overall goal has been to make it much more difficult for the Haqqani network to penetrate directly in what has previously been called this jet stream between Pakistan, right through Khost into Kabul, and it is more difficult,” Adm. Mullen said during a news conference shortly after he returned from the volatile border. “That will clearly continue to be the case.”
At the same time, however, a senior NATO military official said coalition forces will likely never eliminate the havens.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive issues, said that instead the goal is to intensify U.S. efforts while building the Afghan forces so that they can take over the battle for their own security there.
On Ramadan, one Western official said that while Taliban leaders have pushed for an increase in violence through the holy month, information suggests there will be some spikes but that they don’t have the ability to carry off a sustained surge.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said some leaders and fighters had already left Afghanistan to cross the border into Pakistan, but it is too soon to tell how many may stay.
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Russia shipping sophisticated weapons systems to Ukraine separatists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is 'torture'
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- EDITORIAL: Detroit's water 'spigot bigots'
- Brian Kelly, Notre Dame ready for different route to title
- Ted Nugent loses second casino gig for 'racist remarks'
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- White House readies for House GOP impeachment push: 'Foolish' to ignore
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq