Conflict & Justice

Faster US withdrawal from Afghanistan backed by Senate


Fog of War: Soldiers from 10th Mountain Division make their way through thick smoke after blasting a mud brick wall apart in Kandahar.


Ben Brody

The US Senate voted overwhelmingly for a faster withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan after more than a decade of fighting.

Thursday's bipartisan vote of 62-33 sent a clear message to President Barack Obama and the US military as they discuss the pace at which they should draw out the 66,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan, reported Al Jazeera. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the US needs to keep its troops in the country after 2014 because of al Qaeda's presence.

More from GlobalPost: Afghanistan: America's longest war should end

Sen. Jeff Merkley, the vote's chief sponsor, said that al Qaeda is stronger in other parts of the world and that nation-building in Afghanistan needs to be put back on track, according to the Associated Press. His measure goes along with Obama's 2014 timeline to withdraw all combat troops, but asks for a quicker pace.

"It is time to end this war, end the longest war in United States history," Merkley said.

The Senate wants to ready its version of the bill by the end of the week, noted Al Jazeera. It then would have to be reconciled with the legislation the House passed in May. The House bill calls for Obama to maintain at least 68,000 troops through the end of 2014.