The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing Thursday on the situation in Afghanistan. General John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Forces, and Acting Defense Undersecretary and Principle Undersecretary for Policy James Miller testified.
The current agreement between the U.S., NATO and Afghanistan has all troops leaving the country by December 2014. General Allen testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, saying that, except for 23,000 U.S. troops already scheduled to leave Afghanistan at the end of the summer, he does not expect any additional troop draw down this year.
In addition to questions about troop levels, senators were expected to ask the general and defense undersecretary about the U.S. soldier who is accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in the middle of the night on March 11. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, who turned himself in after the alleged massacre, is now being held at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and is expected to be charged on Thursday.
This event, along with the accidental burning of Korans earlier this year, has been seen by some analysts as a setback in the decade-long Afghan war. Afghan citizens have protested both acts outside of U.S. bases in the country. In addition, several NATO soldiers and civilian advisors have been killed in recent months by their supposed allies in the Afghan Security Forces, prompting NATO to order civilian officers to withdraw from Afghan government ministries and to take armed guards when meeting with Afghan officials.