U.S. set for big Afghanistan troop cut: Senator Reid

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 17, 2011 7:58 PM
U.S. set for big Afghanistan troop cut: Senator Reid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is on the verge of announcing a "substantial" drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Friday.

"There's going to be a drawdown. I am confident that it will be one that's substantial. I certainly hope so," the leading Senate Democrat said during an interview with PBS Newshour.

There currently are 100,000 U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan, up from about 34,000 when President Barack Obama, a Democrat, took office in 2009.

Reid also defended Obama's military activities against Libya, which were undertaken without approval from the U.S. Congress.

He said the 1973 U.S. War Powers Resolution, which sets out the powers of the president and Congress on U.S. military action, "has no application" to operations under way against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, noting no U.S. combat troops were committed there.

Besides, Reid added, "This thing's going to be over before you know it anyway."

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have threatened to cut funding for U.S. military operations in Libya because Obama did not get lawmakers' consent.

On Afghanistan, Reid noted that the American public suffered "war fatigue" from combat there that has been going on for nearly 10 years.

Reid, who met this week with General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said he thought the administration could announce the troop drawdown the week after next. But he added that he had "no inside information."

The war in Afghanistan against the Taliban insurgency is costing U.S. taxpayers more than $110 billion a year.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Eric Walsh)