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Exit date may not be safest move

November 2, 2010
The Daily Mining Gazette

President Barack Obama's propensity for placing political concerns ahead of military reality is being spotlighted again this week.

Obama has pledged U.S. troops will start leaving Afghanistan next July. That promise was made after he copied former President George Bush's successful "surge" strategy for Iraq, by sending tens of thousands of new U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

Military leaders say it appears the surge in Afghanistan has been successful - at least in its initial stages. But recently, Major Gen. Nick Carter, commander of British NATO forces in Afghanistan, said it will not be known until next June whether the Taliban actually have been defeated. It is too early to say whether the surge is working, Carter told reporters.

Obama is well aware that it will take time to learn whether next July is too early to begin bringing American troops home. Yet - regardless of the effect his timetable has on the troops' welfare - he is sticking to his schedule. That may be the politically smart thing to do, but it does not place U.S. troops' safety in top priority.



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