GOP: Shooting shows folly of Afghan pullout

Republican lawmakers say the killing of an Army general in Afghanistan this week should be a warning to President Obama not to pull out forces there too quickly.

“I have told the President privately and publicly that my biggest concern is that America will end its mission in Afghanistan just short of the goal line," Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement late Tuesday.

"After my visit there in May, I warned that if we did not demonstrate a determination to finish the job, we would be looking at a reversal of progress similar to what we have seen in Iraq," he added.

Overall, about a dozen lawmakers — mostly Republican — issued a statement expressing condolences over the shooting of Army Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, 55, the highest-ranking member of the military to be killed in combat since 1970.

The president announced in June a troop drawdown timeline that would see the U.S. presence in Afghanistan go from 30,000 forces now to 9,800 by December, then halve by December 2015 and reduce to an embassy presence by December 2016.

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Republican critics, as well as the current U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford, have said the president should not have announced a troop drawdown date. Critics have argued that it will allow the Taliban to prepare for a comeback at that time.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the shooting demonstrated that it was "critically important that we listen to our commanders on the ground to determine what is necessary to safely and effectively accomplish our mission in Afghanistan."

And House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said, "The event only underscores the importance of leaving Afghanistan when the job is finished — rather than stubbornly adhering to arbitrary political deadlines."

Boehner called the attack part of a Taliban PR campaign to show it will soon dominate Afghanistan after U.S. troops leave, and he urged the president to rethink his entire drawdown strategy.

"So let me reiterate: if the President decides to re-think his strategy, including withdrawals, deadlines, and policy restraints, particularly on certain associated terrorist networks, he will have my support," he said.

Republicans with large military constituencies in their states also expressed condolences, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Reps. Scott Rigell (R-Va.), Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), an Air Force veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Democrats Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts, where Greene served, also put out statements, as did Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Mark Warner of Virginia, where Greene lived. 

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