Washington (CNN) - Conservative and liberal lawmakers Wednesday sharply criticized President Obama's plan to start a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2011.
Most Republicans backed the president's decision to send more troops. They claimed, however, he was playing politics by setting an "arbitrary" withdrawal deadline while insisting that any transfer of responsibility to the Afghan government ultimately will be based on conditions in that country.
They also argued he inadvertently strengthened the hand of Taliban and al Qaeda extremists by allowing them to know when a U.S. departure from the war-torn country would begin.
Several members of the Democratic caucus, on the other hand, expressed unease with the president's decision to send thousands of additional troops over the next several months. They questioned whether the war is winnable.
Obama's blueprint faced questions Wednesday as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared before two key committees.