Top Senate Dems head to Afghanistan

The visit is part of a week-long congressional junket beginning next Monday that includes stops to Turkey and NATO headquarters in Brussels, according to a statement released by Levin's office on Friday. 


While in Afghanistan, the lawmakers will meet with "high-ranking foreign leaders, diplomats, and American military commanders, civilian personnel" and U.S. troops based with units stationed in Michigan and Rhode Island, according to the statement. 

The visit comes as the Pentagon and White House are going over the final recommendations for the American postwar strategy drafted by Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. 

President Obama could issue his decision on Allen's plan as soon as next week, when Afghan President Hamid Karzai is scheduled to arrive in Washington. 

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has already reviewed Allen's plan, which recommends three different postwar scenarios for U.S. forces in the country. 

One scenario would have a 6,000-man U.S. force remain in the country after the White House's 2014 deadline, according to reports in The New York Times. The two other scenarios focused on a U.S. military footprint of roughly 10,000 and 20,000 troops, respectively, the Times reports. 

However, the plan notably omitted any details on when the 68,000 remaining American forces in Afghanistan would begin cycling back stateside. 

The force structure DOD and the administration settle on will be supplemented by cadres of American diplomatic and intelligence personnel, all working in country after the 2014 deadline, DOD press secretary George Little said on Thursday. 

Those American military, intelligence and diplomatic corps will also be backed up by their counterparts from various allied countries who also plan to play a role in postwar Afghanistan once all U.S. and NATO combat troops leave in the next year and a half. 

Levin and Reed have been some of the most vocal supporters of the Obama administration's withdrawal plan in recent months. The plan has endured heavy criticisms from GOP lawmakers, noting Afghan security forces are unprepared for the rapid withdrawal called for by the White House. 

Some lawmakers, most notably Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: Report on alleged surveillance abuse in 2016 to be released Dec. 9 McConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' Hillicon Valley: Progressives oppose funding bill over surveillance authority | Senators call for 5G security coordinator | Facebook gets questions over location tracking | Louisiana hit by ransomware attack MORE (R-S.C.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBudowsky: Trump destroying GOP in 2018, '19, '20 Conservative group cuts ties with Michelle Malkin Democratic debate at Tyler Perry's could miss the mark with black voters MORE (R-Ariz.), claim the administration's Afghan plan will put the country on the same path to violence currently being seen in Iraq. 

However, Reed dismissed those claims, telling The Hill last December such parallels did not hold any credence, due to the drastic differences between the two conflicts.