Vet: U.S. Presence Fuels Afghan Insurgents

The White House said Tuesday President Obama is almost finished gathering advice on how to move forward in Afghanistan. A decision is still expected in the coming weeks.

The question is whether to send in thousands of additional troops. But CBS News correspondent David Martin reports one combat veteran and former State Department official says the U.S. should get out of Afghanistan altogether.

Charging that "the United States military presence in Afghanistan greatly contributes to the legitimacy and strategic message of the (Taliban) insurgency," Matthew Hoh became the first U.S. official to resign in protest over the Afghan war.

Read Hoh's resignation letter

"Basically I feel that our strategies in Afghanistan are not pursuing goals that are worthy of sacrificing our young men and women or spending the billions were doing there," Hoh said.

Hoh is a former marine who spent five months working for the State Department in Afghanistan and is by all accounts well respected.

In his letter of resignation, dated Sept. 10, he said, "Our forces, devoted and faithful, have been committed to conflict in an indefinite and unplanned manner that has become a cavalier, politically expedient and pollyannish misadventure."

One of his specific complaints is sending troops to man outposts in the remote valleys of Afghanistan.

"I don't believe we should be conducting combat operations in valleys where the only reason those people are fighting us is because we're occupying them," Hoh said.

Often located on valley floors surrounded by mountains - and able to be resupplied only by helicopter - those outposts are frequently attacked by Taliban from the high ground. Helicopter gun ships have to be called in to repulse the attacks.

This month U.S. troops have pulled out of a half dozen outposts in eastern Afghanistan. The withdrawals were ordered by Maj. Gen. Curtis Scaparotti, who told CBS News it freed up hundreds of soldiers tied down defending terrain where many of the villagers just want to be left alone.

But every time the U.S. abandons an outpost, it's a propaganda victory for the Taliban, who claim they chased the Americans out.
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