The Washington Times Daily - - World -

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this week out­lined his think­ing on plans for U.S. troops in Afghanistan af­ter Pres­i­dent Obama’s dead­line of 2014 to pull them out. Gen. Dempsey said troops would re­main in Afghanistan to help with sta­bil­ity and to as­sure that for­eign aid con­tin­ues to flow into the im­pov­er­ished south­west Asian state.

“Af­ter 2014, Afghanistan can live with­out a ubiq­ui­tous pres­ence of U.S. mil­i­tary forces in their coun­try,” Gen. Dempsey said Tues­day dur­ing a fo­rum hosted by The Wall Street Jour­nal. “They can’t live with­out any.”

The com­ments con­tra­dict Mr. Obama’s prom­ise to re­move all U.S. troops from Afghanistan next year.

“We will have them all out of there by 2014,” the pres­i­dent said dur­ing a cam­paign speech in Boul­der, Colo., on Sept. 2, 2012.

The ques­tion of the size of U.S. forces to be left be­hind in Afghanistan af­ter the 2014 dead­line is the wrong ques­tion, Gen. Dempsey said.

The cor­rect ques­tion is “what size force does the United States and the con­tribut­ing na­tions need to leave there to guar­an­tee that the money we’ve all com­mit­ted to Afghanistan will con­tinue to flow,” he said.

The four-star gen­eral said he is con­cerned that Tal­iban in­sur­gents could fur­ther desta­bi­lize the coun­try and prompt donor na­tions to cut off the $6 bil­lion an­nu­ally in aid that has been pledged for de­vel­op­ment.

“If that money dries up or if the money dries up that we’re pro­vid­ing, along with donors, then they can’t sur­vive,” he said. “This re­ally comes down to what will it take to guar­an­tee that the com­mit­ments we’ve made mon­e­tar­ily will con­tinue to be re­al­ized.”

A draft U.S.-Afghan agree­ment on troops in Afghanistan re­veals that U.S forces will be present in the coun­try for years to come. The draft ac­cord, dis­closed Tues­day by NBC News, out­lines plans for train­ing Afghan se­cu­rity and mil­i­tary forces and for jointly fight­ing al Qaeda.

Both sides are di­vided on the num­bers of troops to re­main in the coun­try. The United States want to keep 7,000 to 8,000 U.S. troops and ad­di­tional NATO forces. The Kabul gov­ern­ment wants up to 15,000 U.S. troops to stay be­hind.

Cur­rently, 60,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, along with 26,834 troops from other states un­der the In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity As­sis­tance Force.

The Pen­tagon and the Is­raeli Mis­sile De­fense Or­ga­ni­za­tion con­ducted a suc­cess­ful in­ter­cept test of a new anti-mis­sile sys­tem called David’s Sling.

The new mis­sile de­fense, also known as Magic Wand, is a key el­e­ment that will de­fend against short-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles — such as those be­ing sought by the Le­banese-based ter­ror­ist group Hezbol­lah.

It was the sec­ond suc­cess­ful in­ter­cept of a tar­get mis­sile by the Stun­ner in­ter­cep­tor used in David’s Sling, the Pen­tagon said.

“The suc­cess­ful test is a ma­jor mile­stone in the de­vel­op­ment of the David’s Sling Weapon Sys­tem and pro­vides con­fi­dence in fu­ture Is­raeli ca­pa­bil­i­ties to de­feat the de­vel­op­ing bal­lis­tic mis­sile threat,” the Pen­tagon said.

The test was con­ducted at a tar­get range in south­ern Is­rael where a tar­get mis­sile was launched, tracked by radar and the data fed to a bat­tle-man­age­ment sys­tem that guided the Stun­ner to a high-speed im­pact that de­stroyed the tar­get mis­sile.


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