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Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network - " Courtney: Afghanistan Must be Military Priority, CT Public Broadcasting Network"

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Second District Congressman Joe Courtney says the U.S. needs to prioritize military resources given the growing insurgency in Afghanistan.

Congressman Courtney, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, says it's troubling news that the Taliban is gaining ground in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Michael G Mullen appeared before the Armed Services Committee to allow members of Congress to ask questions about President Bush's recent announcement to withdraw about 8-thousand troops from Iraq in January.

Courtney says while the President is willing to draw down troops in Iraq....he also needs to respond to the needs of US forces in Afghanistan.

"Terrorists training camps are in full bloom as the national intelligence estimate reported last year. We still have a movement of troops into that region which are far below what the combatant commander, General (David) McKiernan in Afghanistan requested. He requested three brigades. All he's getting is one brigade sometime in 2009."

Courtney says fewer troops in Afghanistan will result in the US depending on long distance air strikes to fight insurgents. He says that strategy won't work in the long run.

Republican Sean Sullivan, who's running to unseat Courtney in the Second district says he disagrees with Courtney on the idea of increasing ground troops in Afghanistan. Instead, he supports building up Naval forces.

'You can move these Navy ships to wherever you need them off the coast and keep them there for an indefinite period of time. And you don't have to worry about the political ramifications and the cost and the potential loss of life that comes with putting the troops on the ground. So I think we should be going towards a long term strategy combating terrorism that focuses primarily on Naval forces."

Sullivan says he's hopeful troop levels in Iraq will continue to be reduced within the next two years.

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