Senate Hawks and Doves Want Obama to Define Civilian ‘Success’ in Afghanistan

Jun 25, 2010 5:48pm

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports: The nomination of Gen. David Petraeus to lead American and NATO forces in Afghanistan is a foregone conclusion. But the occasion of new military leadership in Afghanistan has some Republicans and Democrats pining for an accounting of the civilian leadership there too. Today a coalition of hawks and doves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has demanded in a letter that Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., hold hearings next week in conjunction with the Petraeus hearings at the Senate Armed Services Committee. Their witness wishlist includes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke. There has been some clamoring among Republican lawmakers for Eikenberry and Holbrooke to be sacked. They want a better definition of what success “on the civilian front in Afghanistan” will look like, arguing that “responses to this question have been vague and lacked clarity.” The letter is signed by Republicans like Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jim Risch of Idaho, as well as moderate Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia and the anti-war Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. “Given the recent change in the leadership of the military mission, we feel it is important that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee again request the Administration provide Congress and the American people with a definition of the end state for our operations in Afghanistan, clear objectives for the civilian mission, a detailed plan for achieving those objectives and the very specific, measurable metrics being used to measure progress toward achieving those objectives," they write.   The Senators request that the hearings take place before July 4th – which essentially means they want them next week. UPDATE: Today the State Department pushed back against any suggestions that civilian leadership in Afghanistan could be replaced. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said today during the daily briefing “we do not anticipate any changes in our civilian lineup at this point led by Ambassador Holbrooke, Ambassador Eikenberry, and another collection of ambassadors that we’ve formed a very, very strong dynamic team to oversee the civilian aspect of our joint civilian military strategy.” “We have a strong team, we have the right strategy, and we’re focused on carrying that out,” Crowley said. “I think Ambassador Eikenberry himself, in comments yesterday, stressed that while there can be debates behind closed doors, he feels strongly that we do have the kind of unity of effort that the President and Secretary have a right to expect.” — Z. Byron Wolf ABC News' Kristina Wong contributed to this report.

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