(WASHINGTON) — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says that what he’s seen of Afghan national forces, he now likes.
The Kentucky Republican told reporters in Italy on Monday that after his latest fact-finding visit to Afghanistan with some fellow lawmakers, it’s the first time he’s returned “with a sense of enthusiasm” about turning over security responsibilities to Afghan soldiers and police.
McConnell described the Afghans as “tough fighters that will be able to deal with the Taliban or any other threats. This country will be able to maintain itself after we are largely gone.”
As it happens, President Obama announced last week that the Afghans would take the lead in fighting their enemies beginning this spring with the U.S. stepping back into a support role until the near total withdrawal of coalition forces by the end of 2014.
Asked about what kind of residual force should be left behind, McConnell suggested at least 10,000 soldiers should be sufficient although the White House might try to make do with far fewer than that number.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN