Gillibrand criticizes drawdown plan

Jun 23, 2011 Issues: -

BY TOM BRUNE
NEWS DAY

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand criticized the plan President Barack Obama announced last night to withdraw 33,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by next summer, calling it "disappointing" and "not good enough."

The New York Democrat, who has taken a high-profile role this year, backing legislation and making speeches to urge a fast removal of troops, said the president's withdrawal plan is too little and too slow.

Obama's speech appeared aimed at war-weary members of Congress and voters after nearly 10 years of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and the spending of $1 trillion on wars.

While Obama won support from some New York lawmakers -- Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) called his plan "a good start" -- others split on his short, upbeat speech.

"Ending the surge in 2012 with a disappointing 10,000 combat troops coming home this year is not good enough," said Gillibrand, a member of the Armed Services Committee.

"As I have advocated for months, it is time to shift course in Afghanistan to a counterterrorism mission, with an aggressive drawdown of combat troops."

Long Island Reps. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) also called for faster troop drawdowns.

But Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Obama's plan is "too much, too fast." Obama should give the "surge" of 33,000 troops more time to work and to preserve gains made by Gen. David Petraeus' strategy, he said. King said Obama should bring home at most 2,000 to 3,000 troops this year, but wait for military leaders to assess progress before reducing troops next year.