The New York Times features a recently released report by Zalmay Khalilzad Chair on Afghanistan and Resident Senior Fellow James B. Cunningham, also a former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, that outlines why the US and NATO force levels in Afghanistan should be maintained close to current levels:
Beyond the military, though, a powerful cross-section of the American foreign policy and national security establishment is also pushing for as broad a military commitment in Afghanistan as possible. The latest salvo is a paper to be released on Wednesday by the Atlantic Council, a think tank, which bluntly declares: “U.S. and NATO force levels and presence around the country, as well as intelligence assets, should be maintained at or close to present levels.”
The main argument of the paper, which was written by James B. Cunningham, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, centers on the need to continue helping Afghan forces, and to give the next American administration as much flexibility as possible.
But the most striking element of the paper, which was provided to The New York Times ahead of its release, is the list of more than 20 former senior officials, Democrats and Republicans alike, who have signed on to it. The list includes Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state who served under President Clinton; Stephen Hadley, who was national security adviser to President George W. Bush; two former defense secretaries, Chuck Hagel and Leon Panetta (who also ran the Central Intelligence Agency); and four former American ambassadors to Afghanistan. The paper’s two sponsors are Senators John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island.