Rep. Cooper: President Has Difficult Decision 6-06-2011
It is a key summer for the war in Afghanistan. The White House is nearing a decision time to plot the future of American troops fighting that battle against terrorism. Retiring Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke to soldiers on his farewell trip to Afghanistan. On Monday, he visited two U.S. bases and took questions from soldiers. President Barack Obama is awaiting word from his military advisers on how quickly a planned troop draw-back should proceed, starting next month. Gates cautioned against "taking the pressure off" this year. Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper just returned back from his third trip to Afghanistan. He said the president has a difficult decision ahead. "The surge does seem to have had a strong effect on taking out al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but there are other groups, very dangerous groups," Cooper said. "Our troops are performing brilliantly, but as every one of our generals have said, this will not be decided just by the military." Cooper said one of the greatest threats right now remaining for U.S. troops comes from the very Afghan soldiers and police officers they've spent time training. "There was an Afghan pilot who shot and killed several. Their loyalty is ambiguous," said Cooper. "You wonder sometimes if they can even conceive of their own country, much less the world, much less the United States." White House advisers said Obama will address the nation when a decision is made about how to proceed in Afghanistan, but it isn't clear yet when that will be.