- Associated Press - Sunday, July 18, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is taking a more cautious approach when it comes to next summer’s planned military U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan.

He once predicted the drawdown next July would mean “a lot of people moving out,” but he told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that the number of U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan “could be as few as a couple of thousand troops.”

President Obama ordered 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan last December, bringing the U.S. total to about 100,000.

Mr. Biden said it’s too early to judge whether the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan will succeed, but he said there is progress.

A record 103 NATO troops were killed in June, the deadliest month of the nearly 9-year-old war for international forces.

Mr. Biden also said he never viewed ousted Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s mocking comment about him as a personal attack, but rather a reflection of policy disagreements over Afghanistan.

Mr. Biden said Mr. Obama’s decision to fire his military commander in Afghanistan over Gen. McChrystal’s remarks in Rolling Stone magazine was “the absolutely necessary thing to do.” And he said others in the military agreed.

Mr. Biden said he was asked to survey six four-star generals to seek their opinions about whether Gen. McChrystal should stay or go.

“Every single one said he had to go,” Mr. Biden said in the interview broadcast Sunday. The six generals included active-duty as well as retired four-stars, he said, but he did not identify them.

Mr. Biden said Gen. McChrystal viewed him as the “enemy” because he had argued for a strategy “different in degree” from the general’s counterinsurgency approach.

Gen. McChrystal was quoted as joking that he didn’t recognize Mr. Biden‘s name.

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