WASHINGTON -- Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., blasted reports Tuesday that the Obama administration is moving forward with aggressive U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and contemplating having fewer than 1,000 troops there in just a few years.
"It seems pretty clear to me that what the White House is saying is they're giving up on Afghanistan and don't care," Fischer told The World-Herald.
According to multiple reports, Obama plans to announce during his State of the Union address tonight that 34,000 troops will leave Afghanistan over the next year, putting the United States on schedule to end its combat role there by the end of 2014.
The Washington Post also reported that the Pentagon is pushing a plan to get troop levels in Afghanistan down to 8,000 at the conclusion of that role, and then to shrink that contingent over the following couple of years. One option on the table would reduce troop levels to under 1,000 by 2017, the newspaper reported.
Fischer said she will be highly disappointed if the reports turn out true. She visited Afghanistan last month after being sworn in, along with a group of other senators that included Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. At the time, she said it looked like the overall withdrawal timeline was workable but urged the administration not to move too quickly in pulling troops out this summer or to leave too small a residual force behind.
Fischer said Tuesday that the generals she heard from during her time in Afghanistan spoke of a residual force of more than 13,000 and certainly not fewer than 9,000.
"I want to make sure that we have a force there that is able to maintain a mission ... and so for the president to act this way I think is dangerous and, as I said, it brings into question the sacrifices that our family and service members have made over this long period of time," Fischer said.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., said he's anxious to hear more details about the administration's plans for Afghanistan.
In particular, he is looking for more information about the role of those residual forces. He said he wants to make sure that as troops are pulled out, those who remain do not face an impossible situation.
"But I'm not automatically opposed," Johanns said.