Romney and Huntsman Debate U.S. Troop Withdrawals

GOP contenders spar over the number of troops needed in Afghanistan.
3:00 | 11/22/11

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Transcript for Romney and Huntsman Debate U.S. Troop Withdrawals
And around the two billion dollars a week the United States is spending right now in Afghanistan. Two billion more than -- -- -- hundred billion dollars a year in US troops are supposed to stay for another three years at least till the end of 2014. Is that money well spent. We spent about 450 billion so far. 1700. Or so servicemen and women have lost their lives there and many tens of thousands have been wounded. Our our effort there is to keep Afghanistan from becoming a launching point. For terror against United States we can't just write off. A major part of the world Pakistan. Is the sixth largest country in the world we can't just say goodbye to all of of of what what's going on that part of the world and said we want to draw them towards modernity. And for that to happen we don't want to literally pull up stakes and run -- town after the extraordinary investment that we made. And that means we should have a gradual transition that handing off to the Afghan security forces the responsibility for their own country. And for the region. What happened in in Indonesia back in the 1960s. Where where we helped. Indonesia moved towards modernity with new leadership we would brought them in the technology that allow them to trade in the world what we need to bring Pakistan. Into the 21 century of the twentieth century for that matter so that they they can engage. Throughout the world with traded with modernity right now American approval level and in Pakistan is 12%. What we're doing a very good job with this huge investment we make a four point five billion dollars a year we could do a lot better directing that. To encourage people to take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities the west and freedom represented for their -- -- governor. Her husband you agree with governor Romney that the US -- to stay in Afghanistan at these levels now I -- totally disagree. I think we need to square with the American people about what we've achieved we need an honest conversation in this country about the sacrifices that have been made over nearly ten years. We have. We have dismantled -- column on we've run them out of Kabul we've had free elections in 2004 we've killed Osama bin Laden -- -- ended. Dismantled al-Qaeda. We have achieved some very important goals for the United States of America now the fact that we have a 100000 troops nation building in Afghanistan. When this nation so desperately needs to be -- went on the ground. We do need intelligence gathering no doubt about that we need a strong special forces presence we need to drone presence and we as some. Ongoing training of the Afghan National Army. But we haven't done a very good job defining in articulating what the end point is in Afghanistan I think the American people are getting. Very tired about where we find ourselves today. And -- governor. -- -- Are are you suggesting governor that we just take our troops out next week or what what's your digital I just said. I say we should draw down monitored Dow's win an 800000 troops for nearly a 100000 troops and many of them for -- crossed the wire. We need a presence on the ground that is more attended ten or 151000 that will serve our interest in terms of intelligence gathering and special forces response capability and we need to prepare for a world. Not just in South Asia but indeed in every corner of the world in which counter terror counterterrorism. It's going to be in front of us for as far as the eye can see -- the 20% and the and the commanders on the ground. Feel that we should bring down our surge troops by December of 2012. And bring down all of our troops other than perhaps 101000 or so. By the end of 2014. The decision to pull our troops out before that they believe would put at risk the extraordinary investment of treasure and blood. Which has been sacrificed by the American military I stand with the commanders in this regard and have no information that suggests that pulling our troops out faster than that. Would do anything but put at. And at great apparel. The extraordinary sacrifice has been made this is not time for America to cut and run. We have been in for ten years we are winding down the Afghan troops are picking up the capacity to secure their country and the mission is pretty straightforward. And that is to allow the Afghan people to have a sovereign nation not taken over by the Taliban may bring the speaker and now what do you say. Pull out just just what you wanna go ahead gadget just about the -- telegram and listen I think it's important the American people know we've achieved some very important objectives and raising standards and Afghanistan and helping to build civil society. But -- of the day the president the United States is commander in chief. Commander in chief of course you can -- the generals but. I also remember when people listen to the generals in 1967. And we heard a certain course of action in southeast Asia didn't serve our interest very well. The president is the commander in chief -- -- be informed by a lot of different voices including those of the speaker Gingrich. Look I've got to get hit he gets a response I get response of course the commander in -- makes makes the finalist about the rest of course the -- that. That had not us who haven't had a responsibility. It matters he expects that makes -- final decision but the commander in chief makes that decision based upon the input of people closest to the ground. And and we've we've both been Afghanistan I've been to Afghanistan the people I speak with their say we have been very good prospect. Of the people look in Afghanistan being able to secure the peace and their sovereignty from the Taliban -- that if we pull out and a precipitous basis. As governor husband suggests that we could well see that nation and Pakistan get pulled -- -- and become another launching point to go after America. That's a mistake that's what you listen and then make a decision.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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