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Topic - Joseph F. Dunford, Jr.
A U.S. senator leading a bipartisan delegation to Afghanistan called on President Barack Obama Saturday to announce a decision on his plans for future troop levels in the country on the assumption a much-delayed security pact eventually will be signed with Kabul.
Allied and Afghan forces are putting a greater focus on going after the Haqqani militant network, which has threatened to disrupt the Afghan presidential elections in April, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Thursday.
The four-star general in charge of helping the Afghan military deal with tribal conflicts and Taliban attacks has painted a grim picture of how that military will look in 2015 in the wake of the departure of foreign troops.
U.S. special operations forces handed over their base in a strategic district of eastern Afghanistan to local Afghan special forces on Saturday, senior U.S. commanders said. The withdrawal satisfies a demand by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that U.S. forces leave the area after allegations that the Americans' Afghan counterparts committed human rights abuses there on U.S. orders.
A series of security problems and fractured relations with Afghan leaders plagued Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's first trip here as Pentagon chief, including the Afghan president's accusations that the United States and the Taliban are working in concert to show that violence in the country will worsen if most coalition troops leave.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday accused the Taliban and the United States of working in concert to convince Afghans that violence will worsen if most foreign troops leave — an allegation the top American commander in Afghanistan rejected as "categorically false."
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday officially banned the nation's security forces from requesting international airstrikes during operations in residential areas.
The top American commander in Afghanistan said on Sunday that he believes the U.S.-led NATO coalition can operate effectively despite the Afghan president's decision to ban Afghan security forces from requesting airstrikes in residential areas.
Defense secretary Leon E. Panetta released a statement welcoming President Obama's decision to halve the number of U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan, from about 68,000 to 34,000 by this time next year.
A top Marine Corps general told Congress on Thursday that cutting the Corps to 150,000 Marines, as some analysts project, would mean it could not fulfill its mission during a major war, or respond adequately to crises and humanitarian disasters around the world.
He said America would provide two-thirds of those troops and would keep an additional few thousand forces in Afghanistan to conduct counterterrorism operations.
"The Haqqani network has been more active in some ways over the last few months and so we have energized our efforts accordingly," said Dunford, who has been in town to testify on Capitol Hill this week.