A top Republican Senator has slammed the Obama administration's plan to end the Afghanistan combat mission in 2013, saying the "very unfortunate" move is more directed towards domestic politics rather than ground realities.
"It is very unfortunate that the administration continues to provide reassurance to our enemies that the United States is more eager to leave Afghanistan than to succeed," Senator John McCain said.
"The comments by (Defence) Secretary (Leon) Panetta that the administration is planning to announce an end to combat operations in Afghanistan in 2013 sends exactly the wrong signal to our friends and enemies in this conflict," said McCain, who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 US presidential elections.
"It continues the administration's misguided policy of publicly forecasting its plans to withdraw from Afghanistan. This decision reflects domestic politics in the United States, not conditions on the ground in Afghanistan," he said.
"Taliban has little incentive to engage in a meaningful negotiation with the Afghan government or with us to end the conflict when they believe the United States is leaving and that they can wait us out," McCain said.
"Announcing a change in mission in Afghanistan -- before we have even validated that the Afghan Security Forces can maintain stability in the areas we have already transitioned and ahead of the fighting season -- is premature," said Congressman Howard P McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
"While there have certainly been improvements in the Afghan Security Forces' capabilities, the Committee has not seen a single assessment by our commanders that indicates they have any confidence in such a swift transition," he said.
"In 2006, America made a similar mistake in Iraq. We moved before the Iraqis were ready and we were faced with near civil war. It is incumbent upon DoD to justify this change in strategy to Congress before announcing it publicly," McKeon said.