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Centcom Commander: US Must Keep Troops in Afghanistan to 'Send a Strong Message'

• http://news.antiwar.com, by Jason Ditz

Speaking at the Foreign Policy Initiative's forum today, Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of Central Command, praised President Obama for not following through on planned drawdowns of ground troops in occupied Afghanistan, saying he wants to keep troop levels at least this high for the foreseeable future.

Gen. Votel argued that keeping 8,400 troops in Afghanistan more or less permanently was "a very wise move," and that it would "send a strong message" to the people of Afghanistan that the US believes "the military strategy is working." The US invaded and occupied Afghanistan in 2001.

The most recent drawdown was supposed to have the troop level down to 5,500 by year's end, though Obama had previously suspended it indefinitely. There were previous drawdown plans, similarly scrapped by Obama, which would've ended the war years ago.

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