Unfinished business as Afghan drawdown nears
The United States is set to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July.
The United States is set to begin drawing down more than 100,000 troops from Afghanistan in July but questions persist as to whether the nearly 10-year-old war has accomplished its main objective - eliminating the Taliban as a political and military force that can provide safe haven for terrorist groups.
"It appears a lot of people have forgotten the goals of 2001 when the U.S. initially went into Afghanistan. It seemed then everybody believed it was possible to defeat the Taliban. That no longer seems to be the prevailing belief," CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan said on "The Early Show" Tuesday.
The reason for the Taliban's apparent resilience comes from its leadership's ability to remain unscathed by U.S. attacks, finding protection in the border region of neighboring Pakistan, Logan said.
"Any military officer that goes through West Point training academy, one of the first and most important things that [they're] taught is to defeat the enemy in the fight, they have to destroy the command of control. To that question, what is the command of the control in the Taliban? The key leadership running this war? They're untouched. They haven't paid the price for this fight because they're across the border in Pakistan where they enjoy relative safety and ease of operation," Logan said.
"What you're doing with this withdrawal is you're leaving the battlefield without your main objective being accomplished and that is a question that seems to get overlook in the political debate that's governing this decision at this point."
In an interview with Hearst Television Monday, President Barack Obama confirmed the plan to begin withdrawing American forces, with the vast majority returning home by the end of 2014. Mr. Obama said that with the killing of Osama bin Laden, a "big chunk of our mission" had been accomplished and the U.S. withdrawal could be accelerated as a result.
However, the pace and scope of the withdrawal is undetermined and Mr. Obama is expected to get resistance to an immediate, drastic drawdown from his military commanders, particularly outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates, reports Logan.
Instead, American commanders are expected to favor a slower withdrawal that increases sharply toward the end of the Dec. 31, 2014 deadline so the current surge strategy can have more of a chance to work.
The counterargument is that the slower drawdown would be politically and economically unsustainable
Gates, in Afghanistan for his final visit with troops there, touted the surge's success, saying that the U.S. was on track to deliver a decisive blow against the Taliban. Gates is retiring June 30.
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