Experts say Afghanistan withdrawal in 2014 is quickest scenario

10/30/12 Janelle Irwin
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In their third debate Presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney talked about plans for withdrawal from Afghanistan. President Obama has long said he will have occupation troops pulled from the country in late 2014, but his opponent has been less forthcoming with a timeline.

Al Cardenas, chair of the American Conservative Union, was at a foreign policy conference in Tampa this month. He said Romney is taking the right approach.

“I see no reason whatsoever why tell the enemy what our timelines are. I mean, in military parlance that’s just a no-no and clearly the only reason a timeline was given was for political convenience. You put American lives at risk when you do that.”

Critics of the occupation in Afghanistan want troops to be pulled sooner than 2014, but according to former commander in chief of U.S. Central Command Anthony Zinni, 2014 is as good as it gets.

“I was out there. I did an assessment. It’s almost physically impossible to go faster.”

Zinni was speaking before a panel discussion in Tampa earlier this month. He said that’s because the U.S. military has too much stuff in Afghanistan.

“We have to go north up through Central Asia or out through Pakistan, down to the Indian Ocean – the route security, the conditions on the routes, what we need to do to our equipment to bring it back to rehabilitate it in many ways, the kind of central points we have to build to clean equipment, destroy equipment we can’t take back, turn some over that may be appropriate to the Afghan forces…”

Zinni said U.S. military leaders also have to worry about whether or not the Afghan forces are able to take control. He added some areas still need considerable training.

Here's our coverage of the foreign policy debate

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