Vice President Joseph Biden pledged Sunday that a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan would begin in July 2011 and that U.S. forces would be out of the country by 2014 “come hell or high water.”
Progress is being made in Afghanistan, “in some areas more than others,” the vice president said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“We are making progress,” Biden added. “Are we making sufficient progress fast enough? The answer remains to be seen.”
The administration released on Thursday a National Security Council report on Afghanistan, which predicted that U.S. forces could begin to withdraw in July 2011, as President Barack Obama had planned. It also found that an improved relationship with Pakistan and following through on long-term commitments to Afghanistan will be critical to allowing the Afghan government to take control of the nation’s security by 2014.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday that he “will stand with the president” on the war strategy.
“The new policy in Afghanistan is very improved on the security front,” the Armed Services Committee member said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I want to compliment the president for focusing on 2014 as a transition date. We can start removing troops next summer because of better security.”
Graham referred to two “Achilles’ heels” in Afghanistan: poor governance and corruption.
“The safe havens in Pakistan still exist, but the Pakistanis are doing better than they have in the past, so I do believe that we’re on the right track to provide security,” he said. “And after security comes better governments. And a better-trained Afghan army and police force is within sight.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.