The Defense Departmentâs top policy official, Michele Flournoy, said President Barack Obamaâs announcement of a troop withdrawal over the 14 months is a continuation of a policy of troop surge he initiated in 2009.
In a primetime address Wednesday night, Obama announced that 33,000 U.S. troops, about the same number of troops committed there in the 2009 surge, will return by September 2012.
Of that, some 10,000 troops will return by the end of the year.
Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, told the House Armed Services Committee that Obama was âtrue to his wordâ in the announcement of the troop withdrawals, because even after the 33,000 service members return home, about 68,000 troops will remain in Afghanistan, Flournoy said.
âThatâs more than twice the number as when President Obama took office,â she said. âClearly, this is not a ârush to the exitsâ that will jeopardize our security gains.â
Flournoy characterized the troop withdrawals as part of a âtransition process,â that will ultimately allow Afghan security forces to stand up.
Mullen had acknowledged, though, that Obamaâs decisions were âmore aggressive and incur more risk,â than he was initially prepared to accept, he told the panel.