Washington (CNN) – Just days before President Obama is expected to announce his plan to send tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday that the Afghan government currently is not a reliable partner in the American effort to build up Afghan security forces.
After Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar mentioned an ambitious plan to train 134,000 Afghan security forces in a year, which is expected to be part of President Obama’s larger Afghan strategy rolled out to the nation Tuesday evening, CNN Chief National Correspondent John King asked Lugar whether the Afghan government is up to the task of meeting the demands the Obama administration is expected to place on Kabul.
“Do you trust the other side of the equation?,” King asked Lugar on State of the Union. Do we have a reliable partner in the Afghan government?’
“For the moment, we don't have a reliable partner,” Lugar bluntly replied. “If the training occurs, will the government really take hold? We don't know, frankly,” Lugar also said Sunday.
Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Sunday that concerns about the administration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai should not impede President Obama’s reported plan to send roughly 30,000 additional U.S. troops to the war torn country.
“We have to, I believe, increase our forces - first, our trainers, which is consensus to do that - but also some of our brigade combat teams to give us the time and also to seize the initiative from the Taliban so that the Karzai administration can begin to carry through some of its commitments,” Lugar told King, “They made commitments left and right. Now they have to carry those commitments through.”
Reed added that the Afghan forces who have been successfully trained and who are operating on the battlefield have a reputation for being “actually very good fighters.”
“But we need more of those units, more of those small units,” Reed added, “It will take some time. But the effort here really is to stabilize the situation and insist that the government of Afghanistan begin to perform. And I think the other effort is begin to, at the local level, have effective governance.”
“That is something we're going to have to insist upon,” Reed also said Sunday, “And part of our commitment and part of the president's speech [Tuesday about Afghanistan] will be to communicate the fact that we have these understandings and that they're enforceable.”