Aug 24, 2010

Marines will be 'hammering' Afghanistan next year - CMC

Marines will still be 'hammering' Afghanistan next year
By Jim Miklaszewski
NBC News’ Pentagon Correspondent
Aug 24, 2010

As U.S. combat troops complete their withdrawal from Iraq, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway addressed Afghanistan’s deadline for its similar pullout next summer during a Pentagon press briefing Tuesday.

Conway predicted that a significant number of U.S. Marines and combat forces will still be in Afghanistan “hammering” militants well past the July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawal of American forces.

Conway claimed that President Barack Obama’s timeline to begin withdrawal is "giving the enemy sustenance," telling the insurgent forces all they have to do is wait for the Americans to leave to take over control of Afghanistan.

But Conway said in some respect the deadline could work in favor of U.S. forces. Conway explained the Marines will be there well after July 2011 and implied that it could come as somewhat of a surprise to the insurgents. He asked, what the enemy leadership will say "when we're still there hammering them?"

Conway also appeared to hint that Obama's deadline to begin the withdrawal of Afghanistan was in part a political move because "President Obama was speaking to several audiences at the same time."

He also acknowledged that Americans are "growing tired of the war" in Afghanistan. Pointing out that 60 percent of Americans polled recently are against the war, Conway said America's "leadership has to do a better job of explaining the last chapter" of the war and the consequences should the U.S. abruptly pull out of Afghanistan.

Don’t ask, don’t tell
On a different, but related subject, Conway suggested that if the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” law is repealed, the Marines may consider allowing Marines not to share quarters with homosexuals.

Conway said the Marines may make such housing arrangements "voluntary" to accommodate any "moral concerns." He said many Marines are "very religious" and because of their moral concerns "don’t want to room" with homosexuals.

But Conway stressed that if the law is repealed, the Marines would take the lead in implementing it. "We cannot be seen as dragging our feet. We've got two wars to fight. We'll implement it and move on," said Conway.

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