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Jan 9, 2013

U.S. does not rule out removing all troops from Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration does not rule out a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan after 2014, the White House said on Tuesday, just days before President Barack Obama is due to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The comments by U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes were the clearest signal yet that, despite initial recommendations by the top military commander in Afghanistan to keep as many as 15,000 troops in the country, Obama could opt to remove everyone, as happened in Iraq in 2011.

Jan 8, 2013

U.S. doesn’t rule out complete pullout from Afghanistan after 2014

WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters) – The Obama administration does
not rule out a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from
Afghanistan after 2014, the White House said on Tuesday, just
days before President Barack Obama is due to meet Afghan
President Hamid Karzai.

The comments by U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben
Rhodes were the clearest signal yet that, despite initial
recommendations by the top military commander in Afghanistan to
keep as many as 15,000 troops in the country, Oba ma could opt to
r emove eve ryone, as happened in Iraq in 2011.

Jan 8, 2013

As Pentagon chief, Hagel likely to favor sizable Afghan drawdown

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A decorated Vietnam veteran acutely aware of the limits of military power, Chuck Hagel is likely to favor a sizable drawdown in Afghanistan, more frugal spending at the Pentagon and extreme caution when contemplating the use of force in places like Iran or Syria.

Obama’s decision to nominate Hagel – a Republican former senator who split with his party to oppose the Iraq war – as U.S. defense secretary came despite a public lobbying campaign against his candidacy in recent weeks by a host of critics, some of whom seized upon past remarks to argue he is anti-Israel.

Jan 7, 2013

Analysis: As Pentagon chief, Hagel likely to favor sizable Afghan drawdown

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A decorated Vietnam veteran acutely aware of the limits of military power, Chuck Hagel is likely to favor a sizable drawdown in Afghanistan, more frugal spending at the Pentagon and extreme caution when contemplating the use of force in places like Iran or Syria.

Obama’s decision to nominate Hagel – a Republican former senator who split with his party to oppose the Iraq war – as U.S. defense secretary came despite a public lobbying campaign against his candidacy in recent weeks by a host of critics, some of whom seized upon past remarks to argue he is anti-Israel.

Dec 14, 2012

U.S. defense chief orders Patriot missiles to Turkey

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey, Dec 14 (Reuters) – U.S. Defense
Secretary Leon Panetta signed an order on Friday to send two
Patriot missile batteries to Turkey with 400 American personnel
to operate them, in a move by NATO members to bolster Turkey’s
defences against the threat of Syrian missiles.

The order was signed shortly before Panetta arrived on an
unannounced visit to Turkey to meet American troops stationed at
the Incirlik Air Base, the last stop on a week-long trip that
took him to Afghanistan and Kuwait.

Dec 13, 2012

Bomber kills American near Afghan base after Panetta visit

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) – A suicide bomber killed one American service member and wounded three other U.S. troops outside a base in southern Afghanistan on Thursday shortly after a visit there by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, officials said.

Panetta dismissed the attack as a desperate and futile attempt by insurgents to sow chaos in Afghanistan.

Dec 12, 2012

U.S. defense chief in Kabul for talks on future U.S. presence

KABUL (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived on an unannounced visit to Kabul on Wednesday for talks with military commanders ahead of a decision on how large a U.S. military presence to keep in the country after the NATO mission ends in 2014.

Panetta has not disclosed how large a force he thinks will be needed, but one U.S. official has told Reuters that figures as low as 6,000 U.S. troops were under consideration.

Dec 11, 2012

U.S. says intelligence signals no new Syria steps on chemical weapons

KUWAIT (Reuters) – United States intelligence agencies have detected no new moves by the Syrian government in recent days that would indicate it was preparing to use chemical weapons against rebel forces, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Tuesday.

Several Western countries issued coordinated warnings last week to President Bashar al-Assad not to deploy chemical weapons, many citing secret intelligence that U.S. officials have said his government might be preparing to use poison gas.

Nov 30, 2012

Al Qaeda battle in Afghanistan to stretch for years: U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Al Qaeda fighters are still trying to make inroads into Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday, cautioning that battling the group would be a core U.S. mission there for years to come.

Panetta made the comments as the United States weighs how large a military force to keep in Afghanistan when the NATO combat mission ends in 2014, ending a war that, at that point, will have stretched for over 13 years.

Nov 26, 2012

Analysis: For Obama, could 10,000 troops in Afghanistan be too many?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama publicly scoffed at the idea of keeping 10,000 troops in Iraq. So could he really be persuaded to keep that many in Afghanistan after the war formally ends in 2014?

The 10,000 figure is well within a preliminary range put forward by the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, and which is informing deliberations by the Obama administration, one U.S. official said.

    • About Phil

      "Phil Stewart has worked for Reuters since 1998 and reported from more than 30 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and Egypt. Before becoming a Washington D.C.-based military affairs and intelligence reporter, Phil covered terrorism, foreign affairs and the Vatican from Rome from 2004 until mid-2009. He has also previously been based in Colombia and Brazil as a foreign correspondent. Before joining Reuters, Phil covered U.S. politics out of Washington D.C. for States News Service. He earned his BS in international relations from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. ..."
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