Obama 'overruled' commanders on troops

2011-06-24 10:11

Washington - US President Barack Obama's military commanders said on Thursday he ignored their advice for a more modest drawdown from Afghanistan and warned his decision carries risks for the war effort.

Both General David Petraeus and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Obama's plan to withdraw 33 000 surge troops by the end of next summer was more "aggressive" than they had recommended.

Asked by Senator Carl Levin if he was prepared to resign over the war policy, Petraeus said: "I don't think it's the place for the commander to consider that kind of step unless you are in a very, very dire situation."

Petraeus, who indicated that he had received e-mails suggesting he should quit in protest, said: "This is an important decision, it is again a more aggressive approach than the chairman (Admiral Mullen), (Central Command chief General James) Mattis and I would have, indeed certainly, put forward.

"But this is not something where one hangs up the uniform in protest or something like that."

The four-star general, who is due to step down in weeks as Obama's top commander in the fight against the Taliban-led insurgency and take over as CIA director, is credited by many as having salvaged the war in Iraq.

Waning political support

His testimony in Congress provided more ammunition to Obama's critics on the right who accuse the president of approving an overly hasty withdrawal plan for political motives ahead of presidential elections in 2012.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates, in an interview with AFP, endorsed Obama's plan but acknowledged that waning political support for the grinding counter-insurgency campaign was an important factor in the decision.

The "advantages and disadvantages" of a range of options were debated at three White House meetings, including "not only the situation on the ground in Afghanistan but also political sustainability here at home", Gates said.

He suggested Petraeus had advocated a slower timetable with more troops in place through next summer's fighting season.

"Obviously he had preferred options that gave more time," said Gates, who according to some reports brokered the compromise drawdown plan.

The military's top officer, Mullen, offered a qualified endorsement of Obama's decision, telling lawmakers that he had initially favoured a more modest drawdown.

Kabul's dependency

Mullen said "the president's decisions are more aggressive and incur more risk than I was originally prepared to accept."

But he said that keeping more forces in place also carried risks, including enabling Kabul to become more dependent on the American military presence.

"Let me be candid, however. No commander ever wants to sacrifice fighting power in the middle of a war.

"And no decision to demand that sacrifice is ever without risk," he warned.

Both Mullen and Petraeus said the president had to take into account other considerations beyond military conditions, a clear reference to political and fiscal pressures.

The American public is increasingly impatient with a war that has dragged on nearly a decade. In a new Pew Research Centre poll, 56% of respondents - the highest ever - said American troops should be brought home as soon as possible.

White House officials insist Obama's move was based on military strategy - not politics - and that progress on the battlefield and the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had made the drawdown possible.

Petraeus promised the military nevertheless would carry out Obama's plan, saying it is "the responsibility, needless to say, of those in uniform to salute smartly and to do everything possible to execute it".

  • Palian - 2011-06-24 10:56

    Spin spin pin, will my approval ratings win. Give back the peace prize and pay for the millions dead (by hanging yourself and your previous puppets) because you dint find the fictitious man there which was the fictitious reason you were there in the first place. Its about Iran, ne?

      werner.coetzer - 2011-06-24 12:43

      now that USA is pulling out, can all those islams just please stay in their country and leave the western world alone please

      james4usa - 2011-06-25 18:12

      Major pullout 6weeks pre election this moron is playing Politics with human lives. Werner is right, But problem Israel remains. Joe Lieberman, Krauthammer, Pearle, Wolfowitz the Architect of the war were Major players in dragging US into Iraq. The Islamist also want our troops off their land.

      slg - 2011-06-26 05:40

      Six weeks pre-election? The elections are at the end of next year.

  • Palian - 2011-06-24 11:00

    Funny thing that he can overrule the army but not the CIA who are actually the REAL power over him and responsible for 99% of terrorist acts globally. Brave, peace loving Obomber.

      Joker - 2011-06-24 11:09

      @palian flipping hell what dumb ass comments you make

      Irené - 2011-06-24 11:20

      @ joker- its easy to call someone a dumbass, but do yourself a favour and read a little up about CIA covert operations around the world- these guys are the most evil group the world has seen. Its also highly suspicious that they never make their budget public. So the US taxpayers money goes to this terrorist organisation and they are never expected to reveal what they use money for or how much - I consider the CIA and Monsanto to be the biggest threat to our globe and its population. Please take the blinkers from your eyes- this s*** is real, if you bothered doing any research you would know that.

      Joker - 2011-06-24 11:32

      @Irene the very reason for the CIA is to gather intelligence, and that makes their work covert and secretive in nature. What I am supposed to believe that 911 was a CIA operation? Give me examples as to terrorist activities that has taken place where the CIA has been directly linked to it. Is Al Queda just a made up thing, or no sorry I forgot, Al Quada is the CIA.

      Joker - 2011-06-24 11:45

      The Central Intelligence Agency's primary mission is to collect, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence to assist the President and senior US Government policymakers in making decisions relating to the national security. The Central Intelligence Agency does not make policy; it is an independent source of foreign intelligence information for those who do. The Central Intelligence Agency may also engage in covert action at the President's direction in accordance with applicable law.

      Joker - 2011-06-24 12:27

      @palian the laws are made by Congress and then sign into power by the president. In any event, I am awaiting deployment to a US military base in Afghanistan where I will be working with CIA field operatives. I am looking forward to discuss your theories with them over a beer or 2.

      daaivark - 2011-06-24 13:13

      @ Palian and Irene: Don't you ever get tired of being so incedibly and insistently thick?

      Irené - 2011-06-24 13:51

      @ daaivark Please explain what about our point of view is exactly 'thick'? The fact that we do not trust the US and their supposed objectives? You strike me as a reasonable man, based on your other comments, do you honestly believe the US' cause is noble? or are we really so ridiculous for believing they are a bunch of manipulative lying war mongers with profit on the mind. You know fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me- it was after all the great GWB that gave that saying a whole new meaning- they lied before, they still lie, so I'll play it safe and wait for them to prove they are truthful.

      daaivark - 2011-06-24 14:10

      I have no issue with the belief that the US is a warmonger, but with the perception that the CIA is this massive nasty manipulating everything on earth. The CIA is one small part of a large unwieldy machine, and it is, in my view, a step in the right direction for Obama to have made this move. As "commander in chief", obviously he overrules the generals. That, after all, is what he is supposed to do, and how rank works. The CIA is a separate covert organisation not under military control, though supposedly still reporting to the president. But the whole conspiracy thing is just crazy, with respect.

      slg - 2011-06-24 14:17

      Irene, do you still believe Bin Laden wasn't killed last month? :)

  • Palian - 2011-06-24 11:51

    No, Joker, you don't have to believe it but helps do dig real deep before you make up your mind about real important things on a global scale which affects your life too. You may save a life (and some face) by finding the unfiltered facts and putting the puzzle together. It hurts initially, you loose sleep for a while but then your real human side kicks in. Its liberating. Thanks Irene ;)

      Palian - 2011-06-24 12:04

      again at Joker: 'may also engage in covert action at the President's direction in accordance with applicable law' So, you have 'legal' assassination sanctioned by a person who just so happens to be in charge of and signs those 'legal' bills into power. And you're still questioning? Good start, keep going...soon you too will be free. The truth does guarantee to that 100% of times.

      werner.coetzer - 2011-06-24 12:56

      So? Islam religious law justifies mass murder by suicide just because others don't believe in the same god?!?!?!?!?!

      Wollie - 2011-06-24 13:02

      You do understand that the CIA monitors websites like this?

      daaivark - 2011-06-24 13:13

      @ Wollie: so who cares? Seriously.

      Wollie - 2011-06-24 14:00

      Sorry daaivark, tong in cheeck comments are not usually that difficult to spot.

      daaivark - 2011-06-24 14:12

      @Wollie... my apologies. Inane comments are so prevalent here that one often misses genuine humour. Sorry.

      slg - 2011-06-26 01:27

      What the hell are you talking about? Makes no sense, like your world theories.

  • Fair Deal - 2011-06-24 13:05

    If you dont fight the terorists on their own ground , then you will end up fighting them in your own back yard. They will simply carry on the fight on USA soil.

  • Joe - 2011-06-24 13:23

    that's because Nobama is playing re-election politics with the lives of troops on the ground. What a fraud!

      slg - 2011-06-26 05:42


  • slg - 2011-06-24 14:18

    This article is misleading. See the real story on last night's PBS Newshour. Google it.

      james4usa - 2011-06-25 18:15

      SLG if you believe the biased drivel thats served up on PBS......

      slg - 2011-06-26 01:28

      Shows how off-key you are James, that you think PBS is biased to that degree.

  • SirTumz - 2011-06-25 00:58

    O-bummer did it again

  • Yusuf - 2011-06-29 11:19

    @Werner You are completely ignorant when it comes to Islam and muslims.

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