BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO officials are strongly considering a proposal to keep Afghan forces at their peak strength of 352,000 until at least 2018, as opposed to current plans to cut the force by a third after 2015, alliance officials said on Thursday.
Backers say the proposal, disclosed to a small group of reporters during NATO talks in Brussels, would send a crucial signal of enduring support for Afghanistan and bolster Afghan confidence after the United States and its allies declare their long, unpopular war in the country over at the end of 2014.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged allies on Thursday to reverse damaging defense-spending cuts once their economies improve as U.S. officials warned of the impact that across-the-board U.S. budget reductions could have on the alliance.
“If defense cuts continue, it will have a negative impact on our ability to provide effective defense and protection of our populations,” Rasmussen told reporters at the start of a NATO defense ministers’ meeting.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Marine General John Allen, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan and was caught up but later cleared in the scandal that forced CIA chief David Petraeus to resign, said Tuesday he will retire and forgo his nomination to become NATO’s supreme allied commander because of his wife’s health.
The decision ends the career of one of the U.S. military’s most well-known leaders, who until February 10 spent 19 months in Afghanistan trying to help wind down America’s longest war and strengthen Afghanistan’s military to fight insurgency.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. general nominated to oversee a vast region that includes Afghanistan on Thursday backed keeping Afghan forces at a peak strength of 352,000, contrary to current plans to shrink them after NATO declares the war over next year.
General Lloyd Austin, nominated to lead the U.S. military’s Central Command, said at his Senate confirmation hearing that a more robust Afghan force, while more costly, would “hedge against any Taliban mischief” following America’s longest war.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday that 34,000 troops – about half the U.S. force in Afghanistan – will withdraw by early 2014, bringing the United States one step closer to wrapping up the costly, unpopular war.
Obama announced the withdrawal in his annual State of the Union address, as he renewed his pledge to a war-weary American public that the 66,000 remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan would move into a support role this spring.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon’s civilian and military leaders warned in dire terms on Tuesday that $46 billion in budget cuts due to go into effect in two weeks would erode the nation’s ability to go to war and appealed to Congress to delay the reductions.
The automatic, across-the-board cuts will force the Pentagon to put most of its 800,000 civilian employees on unpaid leave for 22 days, slash ship and aircraft maintenance and curtail training, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
WASHINGTON, Feb 12 (Reuters) – The Pentagon’s civilian and
military leaders warned in dire terms on Tuesday that $46
billion in budget cuts due to go into effect in two weeks would
erode the nation’s ability to go to war and appealed to Congress
to delay the reductions.
The automatic, across-the-board cuts will force the Pentagon
to put most of its 800,000 civilian employees on unpaid leave
for 22 days, slash ship and aircraft maintenance and curtail
training, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the Senate
Armed Services Committee.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon announced on Monday it would extend more of the benefits offered to spouses of heterosexual troops to those of gay personnel but acknowledged some key benefits, like housing, would still be off-limits, at least for now.
The step came 17 months after the Pentagon scrapped its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on openly serving homosexuals in the U.S. military and will affect the day-to-day lives of their spouses in ways big and small – from allowing them to finally get military I.D. cards to granting hospital visitation rights.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama bade a fond farewell to retiring Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at a ceremony on Friday and voiced strong support for his nominated successor, Chuck Hagel, who was attacked by Republicans at a contentious Senate confirmation hearing last week.
Panetta, in his 19 months as Pentagon chief, ended the ban on women serving in front-line combat roles and oversaw the integration of gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. The Iraq war ended and the last Afghanistan “surge” troops came home on his watch.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Pentagon leaders told Congress on Thursday that they had supported a recommendation to arm Syrian rebels promoted by the State Department and CIA but which President Barack Obama ultimately decided against.
Obama’s government has limited its support to non-lethal aid for the rebels who, despite receiving weapons from countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are poorly armed compared to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army and loyalist militias.