By John T. Bennett - 06/21/11 05:29 PM EDT
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) on Tuesday pressed President Obama to unveil a plan that will take no fewer than 15,000 U.S. forces out of Afghanistan this year.
Levin said such a withdrawal is necessary to send a signal to Afghanistan that it will have primary responsibility for the country's security.
“The conditions on the ground, i.e., the notable improvement in the security situation, which will determine the pace of reductions, allow for a reduction of at least 15,000 U.S. troops by the end of this year,” Levin said.
The president is expected to announce a plan to begin withdrawing up to 30,000 U.S. forces, according to media reports.
Levin, like other Democrats and Republicans in both chambers, has ramped up his calls for a big force drawdown since Osama bin Laden's killing on May 1. These lawmakers are concerned about the costs of the Afghanistan operation, and whether, after nearly a decade, a clear military victory is possible.