Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sen. Marco Rubio visits Pakistan, Afghanistan; criticizes Obama's drawdown plan

Marco Rubio and the other GOP senators observed the Afghan army and had dinner with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Office of Sen. Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio and the other GOP senators observed the Afghan army and had dinner with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio spent the weekend in Pakistan and Afghanistan and said he found encouraging signs, but he criticized the Obama administration's goal of beginning to withdraw U.S. troops this summer.

"I think we are on the timeline this year to have some real good news and make some significant progress," the Florida Republican said Monday in a conference call with reporters from Kabul. "But I think if you attach a date to it … you are really creating a difficult situation. The bad guys, the Taliban and even al-Qaida, must know all they have to do is wait."

President Barack Obama has doubled troops over the past two years but said a drawdown would begin this summer — straddling policy between those who want a harder line and those who think the United States needs to find a way out of a costly, deadly war that is more than 9 years old.

Increasingly, the government has been emphasizing presence until at least the end of 2014.

The success of driving out Taliban insurgents is a matter of dispute. A group of aid providers said last month that progress in southern Afghanistan is real but that insurgents gained a foothold elsewhere, disputing more upbeat U.S. assessments.

Rubio, 39, was making his first overseas trip as a senator (he traveled to Israel right after the election) and traveled with six other Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell. The trips are common for members of Congress.

The group met with U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of coalition forces; had dinner with Afghan President Hamid Karzai; and observed the Afghan National Army.

Coalition troops have been training the army so it can fully take over security. But it has been a struggle finding good men who stick with the regiment. Rubio said it can be as simple as some have never driven a vehicle.

"There is no way to overestimate how serious the challenge is, but we are headed in the right direction," Rubio said.

"One thing that's clear from these visits is that 2011 is going to be a critical year for Afghanistan security forces to step up and play a bigger role."

Criticizing what he called an "artificial timeline" of withdrawal, Rubio said the benchmark should be territories where the Afghans are successful in establishing security forces, courts and other government infrastructure.

Sen. Marco Rubio visits Pakistan, Afghanistan; criticizes Obama's drawdown plan 01/17/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 17, 2011 10:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. St. Pete's Downtown Looper expands service with $900,000 grant

    Transportation

    By DIVYA KUMAR

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG ­— The Downtown Looper will expand its route and its hours starting in October 2018 thanks to a $900,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation.

  2. Latest sewage crisis fallout: Higher utility bills in St. Pete

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — For months the cost of the city's sewage crisis has been measured in terms of environmental damage, legal ramifications and political repercussions.

    Now residents are about to get the bill.

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September 2016 to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage during the height of the city's sewage crisis. Now the City Council is considering how much to raise utility rates to pay the $326 million bill to fix St. Petersburg's sewage system. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. Rays add a bat, too, acquiring Lucas Duda from Mets

    Blogs

    The Rays made another big move today, acquiring 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.

    Duda, 31, is a lefty slugger who will take over as the Rays primary DH against right-handers, with Corey Dickerson now playing most of the time in the outfield.

    To get Duda, the Rays gave up minor-league RHP Drew Smith, …

    The Rays acquired 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.
  4. Florida's legal losses up to $19 million and counting since 2011

    Blogs

    From Gary Fineout of the Associated Press:

    This is getting expensive.
  5. Susanne Bartsch installation at Tampa Museum of Art

    News

    Susanne Bartsch and Raquel Martuscelli adjust the hat and hair on a mannequin in the Susanne Bartsch: Art-a-Porter exhibit on Thursday July 27, 2017 at the Tampa Museum of Art, in Tampa, Fla. The exhibit features designs worn by Bartsch and highlights her career in fashion. Bartsch is known for her over the top style and lavish parties thrown in the New York club scene, since the 1980s. The exhibit runs July 30 through November 12.