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. Mother of double amputee Ireland Nugent to lose her own lower right leg

    Human Interest

    Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.

    Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, left, looked on as her daughter Ireland threw out the first pitch when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2014. Jerry Nugent held his daughter for the pitch. Now Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent is facing surgery to amputate her own lower right leg due to a rare infection. WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times (2014)
  2. Chris Archer knocked out early as Rays lose to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Another short outing by Chris Archer led to another long afternoon for the Rays in a 9-4 loss to the Orioles on Sunday.

    Chris Archer has not gotten past four innings in four of his past five starts. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  3. Bucs-Vikings report card: Where's this explosive offense we heard about all offseason?

    Bucs

    O NO

    True, the Bucs defense looked pretty leaky in the 34-17 loss to the Vikings. But you know what needs to happen when the defense is getting torched? The offense needs to step up. In games such as these, with defensive players seemingly getting hurt every play, the offense needs to outscore the other …

    Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes (26) intercepts a Jameis Winston pass intended for wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Bucs-Vikings: Instant analysis from Tampa Bay's 34-17 loss

    Bucs

    MINNEAPOLIS — Here's Rick Stroud and Tom Jones' instant analysis from the Bucs' 34-17 loss at Minnesota Sunday. More to come from Rick & Tom — and Greg Auman —- from Minneapolis later today.

    Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright (17) dives over the pylon for a touchdown as  Bucs cornerback Ryan Smith (29) defends. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Worst-Case scenario: Case Keenum, Vikings hand Bucs 34-17 loss

    Bucs

    MINNEAPOLIS — With key defensive starters out with injury, the Bucs were dominated by the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, with fill-in quarterback Case Keenum beating Tampa Bay for the third year in a row, …

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]