(WASHINGTON) — The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan issued a strong recommendation Wednesday that in order for coalition troops to be on schedule for their 2014 withdrawal, “significant firepower” will be needed to combat enemy fighters starting next year.
Gen. John Allen, who is rumored to be leaving his post sometime in 2013, stressed, “We’re going to need combat power. I don’t think anyone questions that. I owe the president some real analysis on this.”
Allen will have plenty to analyze as he completes the planned drawdown of surge troops that President Obama ordered two years ago. By the end of this summer, the goal is to reduce American boots on the ground in Afghanistan by 33,000 to a level of around 68,000.
Once that’s finished, Allen will start figuring out how to remove the rest of U.S. soldiers over the following two years without compromising the mission in Afghanistan, which is to train Afghan forces to assume all security responsibilities while keeping the gains made against the Taliban.
Allen asserted, “It is not our intention to cede the ground, ultimately, to the Taliban. And, in fact, it’s not even clear that the Taliban have the capacity to flow in” to regions that coalition and forces now control.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN