WASHINGTON (AP) ? The Army general expected to become the top U.S. commander in the Middle East says plans to sharply reduce the number of Afghan security forces in after 2014 could open the door to more Taliban violence.
Army Gen. Lloyd Austin says keeping a larger Afghan force would give the Afghanistan government time to mature and reassure allies of America's commitment to the region. Plans are to cut the number of Afghan forces from 352,000 to 230,000 after 2014.
Austin declined to give an assessment of the Obama administration's decision to pull 34,000 U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by next year. His nomination, however, gave lawmakers the chance to compare that decision with the removal of all U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, which they said led to more instability.