By Khalid Khattak
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford, faced difficult questioning in his first-ever appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
Gen. Dunford was pressed by Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) to give the committee his recommendations for a post-2014 U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, saying Afghans wanted to know what the U.S. commitment would be after 2014.
Mr. McCain expressed disappointment when Gen. Dunford did not say how many U.S. soldiers he needed in post-2014 Afghanistan.
Mr. McCain said the 2011 U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, where security problems persist, should guide U.S. decision-making in Afghanistan.
“Don’t you understand, general, that … one of the reasons why we’re having so much difficulty in some areas is because the Afghans don’t know what our commitment is?” Mr. McCain said. “They saw what happened in Iraq where we had a commitment.”
The senator also said that Afghans needed to know the size of U.S. commitment for its own strategy. “It’s critical for their planning in the future,” he added.
Gen. Dunford, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, said he wanted to first see how Afghan forces do “in their first summer in the lead” of combat operations and how the Afghan presidential leadership transition develops.