MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES - US Army soldiers walk on the side of a hill during a patrol near Baraki Barak base in Logar Province, on Oct. 10, 2012.
President Obama’s pick to be the next commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan said Thursday that he foresees maintaining American forces and equipment in the country after international contingents leave by the end of 2014.
But Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford made clear that his job will be to close down an unpopular war that is in its 12th year. Under tough questioning from Republicans at his Senate confirmation hearing, Dunford stuck closely to the plan to wind down the war on Obama’s schedule.
“With continued focus and commitment, I believe our goals are achievable,” Dunford said.
Republicans have argued that, by setting an iron-clad deadline for leaving, Obama encouraged the Taliban, its backers in Pakistan and the Afghan government to hedge their bets now and jockey for influence later. In his failed presidential bid, Mitt Romney suggested he would revisit the exit plan.