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Levin: In Afghanistan, US should focus on training local forces

Sen. Carl Levin cited concerns about stress on the US military as the US decides its next steps in Afghanistan. Levin spoke at a Monitor breakfast Thursday.

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President Obama is concerned about the stress on the US military as he weighs the merits of “surging” more forces into Afghanistan, says a top lawmaker.

Sen. Carl Levin (D) of Michigan, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Thursday that eight years of war have worn the military down and that the best way forward for Afghanistan is to rely on training the Afghan force – not on increasing substantially the number of combat forces. American forces “are so badly overstretched,” said Senator Levin.

He indicated that Mr. Obama’s most recent meeting on Afghanistan zeroed in on the condition of the military. “The president is focusing on the pressure, the stress that all these tours of duty have placed upon our troops, and that’s a real issue,” he told reporters at a breakfast in Washington hosted by the Monitor.

Despite obvious concern over the military's condition, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan; Gen. David Petraeus, commander of US Central Command; and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have all signaled that more troops are the answer. Mullen in particular has also pushed to increase the amount of time that troops have at home between deployments.

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