30,000 troops; pullback in 2011

30,000 troops; pullback in 2011

December 2nd, 2009 by Todd South in News

Retired Gen. Burwell "BB" Bell said the date-specific Afghanistan plan announcement by President Barack Obama was "the crucial ingredient that's been missing in our Afghan strategy."

Gen. Bell, a Chattanooga resident, who oversaw training for all NATO and U.S. ground forces deploying from Europe to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2005.

A total of 929 American military personnel have been confirmed dead since the Afghanistan war began in October 2001. Of those, records show at least 5 have ties to this region:

Sgt. Jeffery William Jordan, 21, of Cave Spring, Ga., was killed June 4

1st Sgt. John Blair of Calhoun, Ga., was killed June 20

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Seth Sharp, 20, of Adairsville, Ga., was killed July 2

Sgt. Raymundo "Ray" Morales, 34, of Dawnville, Ga., was killed July 21

Lance Cpl. Gregory Posey, 22, of Winchester, Tenn. was killed July 30

* Eighty-five soldiers are currently deployed to Afghanistan from the Tennessee Army National Guard from these units out of Nashville:

1-16th Agriculture Development Team

Regional Corps Advisory Group

Embedded Training Team

Operational, Monitoring and Liasion Team 2

* More than 3,200 soldiers are currently deployed to Afghanistan as a part of the Macon, Ga.-based 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Georgia Army National Guard. That group includes C Troop out of Dalton, Ga.

Source: Tennessee Army National Guard, Georgia Army National Guard, iCasulaties.org

Gen. Burwell "BB" Bell - "At this point it's important for the American people to put aside partisan politics and the bickering we normally see in the Washington scene and get behind this strategy and our president."

Janine Garland, mother of Spc. Josh Garland who is deployed in Afghanistan - "I was thrilled with what I heard. It's exactly what I wanted ... I feel that we need to ramp up the troops, we need to give the troops what they need ... all the manpower and the equipment they need."

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) - "I am curious to hear what the administration expects the conditions on the ground to be in 18 months when the announced withdrawal begins."

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) - "We're going to see a drawdown of the Iraq forces probably quicker than the original timetable ... (Georgia military bases) will be affected but not with bigger numbers than what you see right now."

Senior Master Sgt. Tony Boyd, deployed to Afghanistan in 2005 with the 241st Engineering Installation Squadron based in Chattanooga - "I certainly would like to see us go and finish our work there."

President Obama on Tuesday night told the American people that he has ordered a 30,000-troop increase to the already 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. His strategy is to support the Afghan people and government to take over the country's security and begin American troop withdrawals by July 2011.

"In fact, U.S. and NATO allies cannot and should not commit to an open-ended strategy," Gen. Bell said. "The Afghan people now are in a position to make a decision: Are they going to secure themselves or are they going to submit to Taliban terrorism?"

Janine Garland, of Birchwood, Tenn., hung on President Obama's every word Tuesday night.

Her son, Spc. Josh Garland, is serving in Afghanistan with Dalton, Ga.-based C Troop. Before the speech, Mrs. Garland said that if given the opportunity she "Would tell (President Obama) that from a mother's point of view, if this is truly a war on terrorism, then I feel that we need to ramp up the troops, we need to give the troops what they need ... all the manpower and the equipment they need."

After listening to the speech, she said she was "thrilled with what I heard. It's exactly what I wanted."

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., spoke with reporters on a Tuesday morning conference call ahead of the President's speech.

Sen. Chambliss returned Sunday from a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan over the Thanksgiving holiday as part of his work with the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committee.

The senator said he had hoped the president would have made a decision sooner but he supported the troop increase.

The push to speed up training of the Afghan Army and police seemed realistic and necessary, the senator said.

Sen. Chambliss said he had talked with Georgia native Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, in charge of NATO's training mission in the country.

"What he's got to do is instill discipline," Sen. Chambliss said of training Afghans. "He's in the process of doing that."

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., visited Afghanistan during elections in August.

"I don't think Afghanistan is an easy situation at all," Sen. Corker said. "We're going to be involved with Afghanistan for decades and decades and decades."

Sen. Corker said after the speech, "I am curious to hear what the administration expects the conditions on the ground to be in 18 months when the announced withdrawal begins."

James Pulliam of Chatsworth is the father of 1st. Lt. Christopher Pulliam, deployed in Afghanistan since April with the Dalton, Ga.-based C Troop of 1st Squadron, 108th Cavalry with the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Georgia Army National Guard.

Mr. Pulliam said he hoped the troop increase offered by President Obama would be enough.

"I would like for him to go ahead and to battle with the Taliban more and more," he said. "I don't care about nation building. The people of Afghanistan have to learn to stand on their own two feet."

Charlie Rosenquist of Tunnel Hill, Ga., is the mother of Spc. Henry Rosenquist, also with C Troop. She said this deployment has been hard on her family, but her son volunteered for the job and she wants his work to be finished.

"They're doing good over there," Mrs. Rosenquist said. "It may be slow, but they're doing it."

She commended the president for committing to the war and not submitting to public pressure to withdraw.

Brian Cottell served two tours in Afghanistan in the Army. He left the Army this summer to spend more time with his family. He said more troops will mean more casualties and, after 8 years, the Afghan people need to show more progress toward handling their own security.

Contributed Photo: SGT Benjamin Nelson conducts a security inspection of an Afghan local at Camp Blackhorse.

Contributed Photo: SGT Benjamin Nelson conducts a security inspection...

U.S. troop increases will work only if used correctly, he said.

"If they send more troops to hunt and fight the Taliban, then we're going to have more troops dying," Mr. Cottell said. "But if they send more troops over there to train (Afghans), then I think it will be a good thing."

He agreed with Gen. Stanley McChrystal's 12-to-18-month timeline to show significant progress in Afghanistan as a way to measure the effectiveness of a counterinsurgency plan.

"If (the military) doesn't give a timeline, then it's time to pull out," he said.

Senior Master Sgt. Tony Boyd deployed to Afghanistan in 2005 as a detachment of the Chattanooga-based 241st Engineering Installation Squadron with the Tennessee Air National Guard.

"I certainly would like to see us go and finish our work there," he said.


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