'US to stay in Afghanistan forever'
Sun Jan 2, 2011 7:35PM
A senior Republican senator has suggested that the US should devise a plan to permanently keep American troops in war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that Republicans would push for indefinite US stay in Afghanistan in the years ahead.
"We have had air bases all over the world and a couple of air bases in Afghanistan would allow the Afghan security forces an edge against the Taliban in perpetuity. It would be a signal to Pakistan that the Taliban are never going to come back. In Afghanistan they could change their behavior. It would be a signal to the whole region that Afghanistan is going to be a different place."
"And if the Afghan people want this relationship, they are going to have to earn it. But I hope that they will seek a relationship with the United States so we can have an enduring relationship, economic and militarily and politically, and a couple of air bases in Afghanistan will give us an edge military, give the Afghan security forces an edge militarily to ensure that the country never goes back into the hands of the Taliban, which would be a stabilizing event throughout the whole region."
This comes as the US is planning to more than triple its customs and border patrol experts in Afghanistan in 2011.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Saturday the experts will train Afghan police and customs officials to better manage the country's border crossings.
Napolitano, who currently has 25 agents on the ground, up from 11 a year ago, went on to say that 52 former US customs and border patrol officers will arrive in Afghanistan in 2011.
The developments also come as Commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General David Petraeus has recently hinted that the Western military alliance will increase its operations along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
"We want to do more hammer and anvil operations," Petraeus said in late December, 2010.
Analysts say the US is looking for an excuse to expand its military operations in the troubled South and central Asian regions to secure bases near Russia and China.