President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the next U.S. military commander in Afghanistan has told the U.S. Senate that the security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating, and assured senators he will do a complete review of the U.S. troop levels needed to stabilize the country.
Lieutenant General John W. Nicholson, Jr. told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on January 28 that "there will always be some level of violence in Afghanistan."
He said he would have a better sense of conditions there within a few months if he is confirmed by the Senate.
Nicholson would succeed General John Campbell, who is expected to retire around the beginning of March.
There are now about 9,800 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
At Campbell's urging, Obama last October abandoned his plan to reduce troop levels to near zero by the end of 2016.
Instead, he said they would shrink to 5,500 by the end of the year.
Nicholson said he supports the decision to keep troops in Afghanistan for now and that he agrees with Campbell's decision.