Sen. Reed sees progress in Afghanistan, IraqJanuary 25th, 2011 at 11:19 am by Ted Nesi under General Talk
WASHINGTON — The 10-year U.S. military effort in Afghanistan is showing clear signs of progress ahead of President Obama’s July deadline for the start of troop redeployments, according to U.S. Sen. Jack Reed.
“In Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re beginning a transition from a military-led effort to a State Department-led effort,” though “it’s much more advanced in Iraq,” Reed said at a Capitol Hill press conference where he laid out what he saw on a trip last week through those two countries and Yemen.
Reed and his Democratic colleagues Carl Levin of Michigan and Jon Tester of Montana returned from their trip through the region early Sunday morning. Their focus was on assessing the situation in Afghanistan, Levin said.
NATO and Afghan National Army forces are putting “very severe pressure” on the Taliban leadership, Reed said. The government of Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, is also “beginning to reconnect with the people,” he said.
Reed said President Obama’s decision to set a July 2011 deadline for the start of troop withdrawals “galvanized” military and civilian leaders in Afghanistan to step up their efforts to retake control of the country from insurgent forces.
The transition from U.S. to Iraqi leadership in that country is “on track and on schedule,” Reed said, although political challenges remain – the country’s leaders still haven’t formed a new government.
The Senate Armed Services Committee, which Levin chairs and which includes the other two senators, will hold a hearing about Afghanistan when General David Petreaus returns from the region in March, Levin said.
Although I think the trio’s press conference may get overshadowed by the State of the Union, they did have a decent showing of reporters at the event. (Seated in front of me was John Mulligan, The Providence Journal’s longtime D.C. reporter.) Here’s another picture of the three senators chatting just before the event began:
Reed and I parted ways at that point so he can go to a meeting with congressional experts, including the oft-quoted Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, and then deliver a speech in the Kennedy Caucus Room. We’re going to reconnect after that.
(photos: Ted Nesi/WPRI)