June 21st, 2011
01:38 PM ET

Leading Senator renews call for substantial cut in Afghan troop presence

The chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, (D-Mich), has renewed his call for a substantial cut in the number of U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama is due to announce his decisision on troop numbers Wednesday.

“It should be a significant number," Sen. Levin said. "That’s what the president committed to. Significant means a minimum of 15,000 by the end of this year……If it isn’t significant it doesn’t serve it’s purpose which is to make clear to the Afghan government that the primary responsibility for security needs to be transferred to them."

" Anything less than 15,000 it seems to me sends a weaker message to the Afghan people and the wrong message to the American people who really want us to make a significant reduction in our presence," Levin said.

He said the shift to Afghan security forces taking the lead "is key to the success of the mission because a strong Afghan army taking on the Taliban is the Taliban’s worst nightmare, because facing an Afghan army removes the Taliban’s propaganda argument that they are fighting ‘occupiers.’"

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