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Fact check: Obama, Romney see progress in Afghanistan

October 22, 2012|By Shashank Bengali
  • President Obama shakes hands with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney after the debate at Lynn University on October 22, 2012 in Boca Raton, Fla.
President Obama shakes hands with Republican presidential candidate… (Mark Wilson / Getty Images )

President Obama and Mitt Romney papered over the problems plaguing U.S. efforts to leave behind a stable Afghanistan when NATO combat troops stand down by the end of 2014.

And Romney, in essence, endorsed Obama’s policies.

“We’ve seen progress over the past several years,” Romney said during Monday's presidential debate. Referring to Obama’s decision to add 33,000 U.S. troops, Romney said, “The surge has been successful, and the training program is proceeding at pace.”

However, the debate ignored the growing problem of Afghan soldiers turning on those trainers, who include American soldiers. These so-called insider attacks by Afghan soldiers have killed 51 NATO soldiers this year.

NATO officials believe that very few, if any, Afghan army battalions can operate on their own, without coalition support. So many Afghan soldiers drop out of the army that its commanders have to replace about one-third of the force every year.

Yet in the debate, Obama said, “We’re now in a position where we can transition out, because there’s no reason why Americans should die when Afghans are perfectly capable of defending their own country.”

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shashank.bengali@latimes.com

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