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Weekly Round-Up: Inhofe Calls Senate-Passed Budget Irresponsible

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Senator Inhofe last night voted against Senate passage of the Budget Resolution (S. Con. Res. 13), which passed by a vote of 55-43.

"At a time when American families are forced to make tough choices and cut back in their own budgets, it's simply irresponsible for Washington to add to their financial pain by increasing their taxes and spending more of their hard-earned money," Senator Inhofe said. "Oklahomans will be particularly disappointed to learn that the Senate passed a bloated budget that includes more taxes and increased government spending while doing nothing to bring down the deficit. This budget raises taxes by $361 billion and allows for $1.3 trillion in additional tax increases, doubles the publicly held national debt in 5 years taking it from $5.8 trillion to $12.6 trillion, and triples it in ten years to $17.2 trillion."

Not included in the Senate-passed budget are reconciliation instructions in the budget resolution regarding cap-and-trade legislation. Senator Inhofe was pleased to join a clear bi-partisan majority in voting for the Johanns amendment, number 735, which prohibits the use of budget reconciliation for cap-and-trade legislation. The amendment passed the Senate by a vote of 67-31.

"I was pleased to join an overwhelming bi-partisan majority in opposing the inclusion of reconciliation instructions in the budget resolution. Reconciliation was designed for deficit reduction, not major policy initiatives like climate change, which should be fully debated through regular order in the committees of jurisdiction. Further, use of such procedures for climate legislation rejects the twin goals of transparency and bipartisanship so often mentioned by the Administration."

Senator Inhofe was also pleased to secure a victory for veterans in the budget. The Inhofe amendment, S.Amdt.742, provides for advance appropriations for medical care for the Department of Veterans Affairs for the Medical Services, Medical Administration, Medical Facilities, and Medical and Prosthetic Research accounts of the Veterans Health Administration. Veterans groups including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Disabled American Veterans (DAV) expressed strong support for Senator Inhofe's amendment.

"Veterans groups are now one step closer to the Senate providing the VA with adequate, timely and predictable funding, resulting in better and smarter quality medical care for America's veterans. The need for advanced appropriations is clear. In 19 of the last 22 years, Congress has been unsuccessful in passing annual funding for veterans health care on time. Over the past seven years, the VA received its final budget an average of three months after the beginning of the new fiscal year. Delayed funding has hindered the VA's ability to effectively and efficiently plan and manage its health care system. While waiting tirelessly for budgetary impasses to be resolved, our veterans' and wounded warriors' vital health care has been delayed."

With the House also passing a budget last night, the budget now goes to a conference between the House and the Senate, expected to occur when session resumes in two weeks.

Inhofe Secures Victory for Veterans

Senator Inhofe was pleased that the Senate-passed budget resolution includes his veterans amendment, S.Amdt.742, which provides for advance appropriations for medical care for the Department of Veterans Affairs for the Medical Services, Medical Administration, Medical Facilities, and Medical and Prosthetic Research accounts of the Veterans Health Administration. The provision ensures a timely and predictable funding flow from fiscal year to fiscal year resulting in better care for our veterans and wounded warriors. Senator Inhofe's amendment was co-sponsored by the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Richard Burr (R-NC), as well as Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The amendment was passed by voice vote on Thursday.

"Veterans groups are now one step closer to the Senate providing the VA with adequate, timely and predictable funding, resulting in better and smarter quality medical care for America's veterans," Senator Inhofe said. "The need for advanced appropriations is clear. In 19 of the last 22 years, Congress has been unsuccessful in passing annual funding for veterans health care on time. Over the past seven years, the VA received its final budget an average of three months after the beginning of the new fiscal year. Delayed funding has hindered the VA's ability to effectively and efficiently plan and manage their health care system. While waiting tirelessly for budgetary impasses to be resolved, our veterans and wounded warriors' vital health care has been delayed.

"I am proud to have succeeded in working to secure inclusion of this provision in the budget. Ensuring that we are providing the best care for our men and women in uniform and veterans who have selflessly served to make our nation a strong and free country has been one of my top priorities."

The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, among other veterans groups, expressed strong support Senator Inhofe's initiative.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars stated in a letter this week, "On behalf of the 2.2 million men and women of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and our Auxiliaries, I am writing to urge your support for an amendment Senator Inhofe is offering to the Budget Resolution, S. Con. Res. 13. His amendment would protect advanced appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from being subject to a point of order. An advanced appropriation for VA is among this organization's highest priorities. We strongly urge you to support and adopt this amendment." Read the Full Letter Here.

Joseph Violante, National Legislative Director for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), said, "I am writing on behalf of the 1.2 million member Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to urge you to support the amendment to be offered by Senator Inhofe to the budget resolution providing for advance appropriations for veterans health care. The Inhofe amendment will extend the same protection from a point of order against advance appropriations for veterans medical care as is already provided other agencies and programs that receive advance appropriations, such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. DAV, The Independent Budget, The Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget Reform, The Military Coalition, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and most other veterans service organization have made advance appropriations for veterans health care our highest legislative priority for veterans this year. Read the Full Letter Here.

Previous support for advanced appropriations has been stated by Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki and President Obama, who during his campaign in October 2008, said, "The way our nation provides funding for VA health care must be reformed...My Administration will recommend passage of advance appropriations legislation for the FY 2010 appropriations cycle."

To read about Senator Inhofe's work to advance the field of prosthetic research and development, please click here.

OK Delegation Announces Altus AFB to Receive a Reserve Squadron

At the 47th annual Quail Breakfast this week in Washington with members from Altus' Chamber of Commerce and the Altus Military Affairs Committee, Senator Inhofe and the Oklahoma Congressional delegation made an announcement of great importance to the community of Altus and the U.S. Air Force.

Senator Jim Inhofe: "I would like to announce today, on behalf of the Oklahoma Congressional delegation, that the U.S. Air Force has agreed to stand up a reserve squadron at Altus Air Force Base. The 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus is currently one of the only wings in the 19th Air Force that does not have a associated reserve unit. The Air Force has committed to opening the new squadron but the actual timing and size of the squadron has yet to be determined. This reserve squadron will enhance both the flying training mission at Altus and in the Air Force with operational tanker and airlift missions. The new reserve crews will provide a ‘Total Force' schoolhouse for the C-17, KC-135, and, ultimately, the KC-X tanker. While I expect the squadron to grow slowly, the final number could grow larger as the squadron matures and Altus Air Force Base picks up the KC-X tanker centralized training mission. I'm pleased that Secretary of the Air Force Donnelly and Air Force Chief of Staff General Schwartz could join us today for the Quail Breakfast and this announcement. This is great news for Altus, our state, and the United States Air Force."

Congressman Frank Lucas: "Once again, the tremendous turnout of the Altus community to support the Altus Air Force Base received a very warm welcome from members of the Air Force senior leadership at their annual Quail Breakfast. As with the many Quail Breakfasts that I have attended during my tenure in Congress, this year was once again an impressive experience."

Congressman Dan Boren: "I am pleased the Air Force announced today that a new reserve unit will soon be coming to Altus Air Force Base. This decision builds upon the strong relationship between the Air Force and the community of Altus. Oklahoma has a strong legacy of service and support for our nation's military and their families. I look forward to welcoming the members of this new unit to Altus and the great State of Oklahoma."

Congresswoman Mary Fallin: "Altus Air Force base plays a key role in our national defense and is a source of great pride to the immediate community and the entire state of Oklahoma. The addition of a reserve squadron there will strengthen its position in the Air Force, ensure the vitality of the C-17 and KC-135 missions and pave the way for future programs coming to Altus. I will continue to work with my colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee to ensure the federal government meets the needs of Altus AFB and other military bases in Oklahoma."

Congressman John Sullivan: "I am pleased to learn of the U.S. Air Force decision to stand up a reserve squadron here in Oklahoma at Altus Air Force Base. This is a positive development for military readiness in our state, and across our country. Our men and women in uniform make sacrifices every day for the safety and freedom of all Americans. I am proud to welcome these additional families to Oklahoma. This is good news for our state, and presents some great opportunities for Oklahoma."

Additionally, local leaders praised the decision today:

Altus Mayor T.L. Gramling: "Senator Inhofe's announcement of a new Air Force Reserve squadron at Altus is terrific news for the city and the base. We are excited and welcome an increase of training activity at the base, which will undoubtedly have a positive economic impact on the city of Altus. Altus Air Force Base is the core of our community and we are grateful for the great relationship that we have and will continue to have with the Air Force here. Our federal delegation, led by Senator Inhofe, has worked tirelessly to ensure the strength of the military in Southwest Oklahoma."

Joe Leverett, Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee: "The Altus Military Affairs Committee trip to Washington this year couldn't have ended with greater news than the announcement of the reserve squadron. We are excited to return to the Altus community and spread the word. As the committee and our city leadership have long said, Altus has open air space, open ramp space and a community that loves the Air Force. We appreciate the service our local airmen and look forward to an even brighter future with them."

Inhofe Vows to Fight for FCS and NLOS-C

Senator Inhofe reaffirmed his continued commitment this week to fighting for the Future Combat System (FCS) Army Modernization. Recent media reports have indicated that President Obama's sole budget cuts will be to the defense budget, particularly targeting FCS and its components, including the Non-Line of Sight Cannon (NLOS-C).


"With the Department of Defense getting closer to releasing details of their budget, it's not surprising that rumors have begun to circulate regarding cuts to Future Combat System (FCS) and the Non-Line Of Sight Cannon (NLOS-C)," Senator Inhofe said. "Let me be absolutely clear, I will do everything I can in my role as a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to fight for the Army's FCS program and the NLOS-Cannon. I will ensure that my colleagues and the public understand the importance of these programs to our men and women in the armed services. It's reprehensible that, during a time when we are spending billions of dollars to fund counterproductive stimulus programs, the only proposed cuts to spending are to our defense programs at the expense of our national security and future readiness of our military. The modernization of our Army and our national security is not a partisan matter.

"FCS is Army modernization. Without it, we risk sending our sons and daughters into combat in vehicles that are second-rate and are less survivable and effective in combat. What price should we place on the lives of our children we send off to war? With its state-of-the-art composite armor, FCS's family of manned ground vehicles, including the NLOS-C, will be an average of 12% more survivable than current combat vehicle systems based on manufacturer tests of armor. Our Soldiers, and frankly the next generation of Soldiers, deserve better than 50 year-old combat vehicles with seven layers of new paint. FCS will not only enable our Soldiers to fight and win combat operations ranging from counter-insurgencies through conventional conflicts, but it will bring our sons and daughters home safely.

"To say that FCS and the NLOS-C are designed for a conventional war is narrow-minded and overlooks the reality that the systems that FCS will replace are being used on the battlefields today in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Paladin howitzer, which the NLOS-C will replace, has performed exceptionally in Iraq firing the GPS guided Excalibur rounds as well as conventional rounds. The Paladin was conceived during the 1950s and fielded to the Army in the 1960s. The FCS Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) and the Mounted Combat System (MCS) will replace the Army's current Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the Abrams tank, both designed in the 1970s and produced in the 1980s and currently being used extensively on the battlefield. Our Soldiers deserve better than using equipment that is 50 years old. FCS fulfills over 80% of the critical needs identified by the Army and will provide a thorough overhaul and modernization of our fleet of combat vehicles.

"Most troubling to me, however, is President Obama's intention to make these severe cuts to the overall defense budget. My priority has long been to ensure our nation stays committed to providing the necessary funds to our men and women in the Armed Services. We must invest now to ensure that we maintain the best-equipped and most capable military in the world."

Inhofe Discusses Building Global Partnerships Program at Armed Services Hearing

Senator Inhofe welcomed to the committee Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy, Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander General David Petraeus and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Commander Admiral Eric T. Olson, discussing with them U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. During the hearing, Gen. Petraeus, Sec. Flournoy and Admiral Olson expressed support for the Building Global Partnerships initiatives that Senator Inhofe has long championed. Part of the yearly National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), these programs include military-to-military (1206), civilian-to-civilian (1207) and small-scale special forces (1208) training programs that encourage and increase cooperation among various military and security agencies.

"I am pleased that President Obama listened to General Petraeus, General McKiernan and commanders on the ground and has authorized an increase in the number of United States forces in Afghanistan. The addition of 4,000 troops to train and advise the Afghanistan Army and police force will pay great dividends in the short term for security as well as Afghanistan's long term ability to enforce its laws and combat terrorism within its borders. However, this must be an international effort because the threat is global. It has been difficult, at best, to convince our NATO allies to commit troops to the mission in Afghanistan. I agree with Sec. Flournoy that the NATO countries must have a ‘sense of ownership' in the ongoing operations in Afghanistan; it is imperative that we receive continued support from all our international partners.

"I will continue working to permanently authorize our train and equip programs, such as IMET (International Military Education Training) and our Building Global Partnerships programs, Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP), and the Combatant Commanders Incentive Fund (CCIF). These programs have proven to be a vital resource in aiding developing countries in the professionalization of their militaries, fighting terrorism, and providing resources for emergency situations.

"These programs are joint engagements by both the Departments of State and Defense. Through these programs, Chiefs of Mission and Combatant Commanders are working together to increase the capabilities of our partner nations to provide for their own security, increasing stability in their region and around the globe. I was glad to hear Sec. Flournoy say that these programs are critical to our success in Afghanistan as well as critical to our engagement globally. General Petraeus and Admiral Olson agreed and support continuing all the train and equip programs. I have yet to meet an ambassador or military commander who hasn't endorsed and praised these programs."

Congress Must Reject Energy Tax Increases (Inhofe Op-Ed/Oklahoman)

Congress Must Reject Energy Tax Increases

Obama's Policies Detrimental to Country

By U.S. Senator James Inhofe

April 1, 2009

Link to Inhofe Op-Ed

See also: Oklahoman Editorial: All Americans will pay for oil and gas policies - The obama plan

As demonstrated by President Obama's budget, the administration has launched an onslaught of unprecedented policies to restrict access to natural resources and increase taxes on America's homegrown natural gas and oil industry.

The attack has drawn the ire of Democrats and Republicans from energy-producing states. One Senate Democrat recently said, "I'm going to ask the president how he thinks that increasing substantially taxes on the oil and gas industry helps us to achieve our goal of domestic energy independence of a more robust domestic drilling program. It's one of the areas where I take the strongest issue with the administration. ... But independent oil and gas producers, which are the backbone of the domestic industry, cannot bear the elimination of these tax credits."

I could not agree more.

Of the nearly 6 million Americans who are directly and indirectly employed as a result of natural gas and oil exploration, production and refining, all should be alarmed with the adverse consequences of President Obama's tax increases.

His $31 billion increase in oil and gas taxes would significantly curtail the operating budgets of all exploration and production companies, big and small.

Tens of thousands of land owners from Montana to New York and Alabama to New Mexico are the beneficiaries of monthly checks coming from the mineral royalties produced on their properties. Nearly every single one of these royalty owners would face tax increases under Obama's plan.

States annually receive billions of dollars in excise and severance taxes to support the critical funding of roads, schools and law enforcement. These revenues would significantly drop due to the forced cutbacks in exploration and production caused by these federal tax increases.

Furthermore, every marginal well operator in the country should be acutely aware that these proposals will force the premature plugging of potentially tens of thousands of low-production marginal wells.

Despite the rhetoric, America's oil companies are already paying taxes at the highest rates. Figures from the Energy Information Agency indicate that America's major oil producers already pay on average more than a 40 percent income tax rate.

After President Jimmy Carter imposed a similar windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry back in 1980, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service later determined that its results were hugely counterproductive: "The WPT reduced domestic oil production between 3 and 6 percent, and increased oil imports from between 8 and 16 percent. ... This made the U.S. more dependent upon imported oil."

For American jobs, for the international competitiveness of American companies and for the consumers at the pump, Congress must reject Obama's energy tax increases. These counterintuitive policies will undoubtedly make our nation more dependent on foreign oil, not less.

These counterintuitive policies will undoubtedly make our nation more dependent on foreign oil, not less.

Inhofe Co-Sponsors Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Resolution

This week Senator Inhofe joined Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) to introduce a resolution in support of the establishment of "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day." Designating March 30, 2009, as "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day" honors the return home of our armed service members after serving in Vietnam. This legislation has bi-partisan support and is co-sponsored by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS). The House of Representatives passed a similar resolution introduced by Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA) on March 24, 2009.

"On March 30, 1973, our United States Armed Forces completed the withdrawal of combat troops from Vietnam," Senator Inhofe said. "Our veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces in Vietnam deserve the greatest honor and respect - honor and respect they were denied when they arrived home. I am proud to join my colleagues in support of this resolution to establish a day in honor of the return of all troops from the Vietnam War."

"There's no question that our troops served our country bravely and faithfully during the Vietnam War, and these veterans deserve our recognition and gratitude," Senator Burr said. "Unfortunately, when these service members returned home, they were caught in the crossfire of public debate about our nation's involvement in the Vietnam War. As a result, these brave men and women never received the welcome reception and recognition they deserved."

The United States became involved in Vietnam because policy-makers believed that if South Vietnam fell to a communist government, communism would spread throughout the rest of Southeast Asia. The US Armed Forces began serving in an advisory role to the South Vietnamese in 1961, and in 1965, ground combat troops were sent into Vietnam. After many years of combat, all US troops were withdrawn from Vietnam on March 30, 1973, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris. Therefore, March 30, 2009, is an appropriate day to establish "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day." More than 58,000 members of the United States Armed Forces lost their lives and more than 300,000 were wounded in Vietnam. The establishment of a "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day" would serve as a small way to honor these men and women who served our country in Vietnam throughout the war.

April 10th Marks 30-Year Anniversary of Taiwan Relations Act

Senator Inhofe, a co-chair of the Senate Taiwan Caucus and a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, together with Senator Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and 28 other Senators, sent a letter to President Obama recognizing the 30-year anniversary on April 10th of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and reiterating the United States' commitment to Taiwan.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr. President:

The United States has maintained a unique and close partnership with Taiwan for over 60 years. Taiwan is one of our strongest allies in Asia and has become a beacon of democracy and economic growth in a rapidly evolving and vital region for the United States.

On April 10, the United States and Taiwan will commemorate an important milestone in our longstanding relationship as we mark the 30th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). This legislation provides an institutional framework and legal basis for our continued relations after the end of formal diplomatic ties. The TRA guarantees America's support for Taiwan's self-defense capability, pledges to maintain the capability to resist any resort to force or coercion that would jeopardize Taiwan, and reaffirms the preservation and enhancement of the human rights of all the people on Taiwan. This unprecedented legislation has helped keep peace and stability in Asia, and has allowed a highly productive relationship between our governments to grow and prosper.

The United States and Taiwan have brought about ties that are as strong today as at any time since passage of the TRA. Consequently, we hope you will join us in recognizing the 30th anniversary of this landmark legislation and in expressing our nation's continued support for freedom, security and prosperity for the people of Taiwan.

In the News...Inhofe surveys Afghanistan War (Claremore Daily Progress)

Claremore Daily Progress

Inhofe surveys Afghanistan War

Joy Hampton
Claremore Daily Progress

Link to Article

March 31, 2009 -

PROGRESS: As a Senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, describe that committee's role in policy setting in Afghanistan. What is the primary purpose of the committee and how does it assist the President?

INHOFE: The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) plays an integral oversight role in the policy, budgetary and resourcing initiatives of our Armed Services. Through legislation, hearings and frequent consultation with senior Department of Defense leaders, the SASC performs the Senate's Constitutional role of Congressional oversight on all defense matters. As the second ranking Republican senator, I meet frequently with senior civilian and uniformed officials to discuss and influence policy and financial issues. I use this venue to ensure that our services, and especially our troops, are given the resources they need to accomplish their missions.

PROGRESS: What key changes in U. S. foreign assistance do you believe are needed to deal with the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

INHOFE: I have long said that there is no military-only solution in Afghanistan and that Pakistan's active or passive influence of Al Qaeda is the keystone in a successful solution in Afghanistan. Specifically, we need to continue and increase our initiative to train, develop and professionalize Afghan security forces who will be essential in combating the violence by the Taliban and Al Qaeda. With a safer Afghanistan, State Department and other governmental agencies will have the chance to develop agriculture and economic opportunities.

PROGRESS: How do economic factors feed terrorism?

INHOFE: Much like the reason why Al Qaeda found a receptive atmosphere in Afghanistan while under control of the Taliban, Afghans with no means of supporting and feeding their families will resort to whatever means are available, including supporting and participating in terrorist activity or growing crops that promote the drug trade.

An Afghanistan with a solid agricultural base and the infrastructure to support it is a country that is averse to terrorism.

PROGRESS: Struggling rural communities in the U.S. and in northeastern Oklahoma have also experienced surges of reliance on the drug trade, at times. How do we combat those factors in Afghanistan? In what ways are those issues parallel to similar issues in the U.S.?

INHOFE: Like Oklahoma, Afghanistan has a large agricultural base. However, agricultural potential in Afghanistan is extremely limited compared to that in Oklahoma. One of the keys in combating the reliance on the drug trade is providing agricultural alternatives to Afghan farmers through development teams like the Oklahoma National Guard agricultural development team that will deploy to Afghanistan in late 2009 to advise Afghan farmers on irrigation and harvesting techniques.

PROGRESS: What role do you believe the Pakistani leadership plays in the current terrorist threat?

INHOFE: Though faced with a challenging dilemma of influence in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA), Pakistani and Pakistani military leadership must assert their control of the border region to deny safe havens to Al Qaeda that allow them to cross the Afghan border at will and incite attacks on Afghan and coalition forces.

PROGRESS: How do you suggest we address that leadership? What rewards and sanctions might the U.S. use to assure Pakistani cooperation?

INHOFE: Pakistani leadership must be encouraged to see the widespread negative effect on security and economic opportunity that the Taliban and Al Qaeda's activity have in their region. U.S. and NATO aid to Pakistan should be directed toward Pakistani forces whose mission is to capture and kill terrorist cells within its borders.

PROGRESS: Do you agree that resources were misdirected toward Iraq that should have gone to Afghanistan?

INHOFE: What happens in Iraq affects not only Afghanistan, but it also affects what happens throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the rest of the globe. Iraq was central to the War on Terror â€" al-Qaeda knew that stating their fighters want an Islamic caliphate in Anbar. Al-Qaeda presence increased in Iraq after the US went into Afghanistan looking for another safe haven to train their fighters. Additionally, the Iranian influence increased and threatened to encompass Iraq. On August 28, 2007 Iranian President Ahmadinejad stated at a press conference in Tehran, "Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap, with the help of neighbors and regional friends like Saudi Arabia, and with the help of the Iraqi nation." A stable Iraq brings stability to the region and provide a counter to Iran.

In the News...Oklahoma National Guard part of Afghanistan solution (Claremore Daily Progress)

Claremore Daily Progress

WAR ON TERROR: Oklahoma National Guard part of Afghanistan solution

Inhofe weighs in on President's proposal

By Joy Hampton
CLAREMORE DAILY PROGRESS

Link to Article

March 31, 2009 - Friday morning, President Barack Obama announced a new, comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, including an additional 4,000 troops on top of the 17,000 already slated for deployment to Afghanistan. Those numbers include Rogers County residents.

Airman First Class Steven Inman, a Rogers County resident and member of the U.S. Air Force, is currently in training at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev. He will be one of the 21,000 deployed to Afghanistan this year.

"He'll be home for a couple of weeks in May," said Steven's mother, Wanda Inman. Wanda is president of Rogers County Blue Star Mothers. "We've got several that are still in Iraq and the National Guard will be deployed again to Afghanistan. I do know we have several from Rogers County going to Afghanistan this year."

"The situation is increasingly perilous, said Pres. Obama in Friday's announcement. "It has been more than seven years since the Taliban was removed from power, yet war rages on. Insurgents control parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Attacks against our troops, our NATO allies, and the Afghan government have risen steadily. Most painfully, 2008 was the most deadliest year for American Forces."

Obama pledged more resources to be channeled toward Afghanistan.

"For six years, Afghanistan has been denied the resources that it demands because of the war in Iraq," said the President. "Now we must make a commitment that can accomplish our goals."

Obama was responding to the White Paper, a report by the Interagency Policy Group on U.S. Policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This report examines the national security interest in the region and assesses potential security threats "posed by extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

"In Pakistan, al Qaeda and other groups of jihadist terrorists are planning new terror attacks," reads the report.

U.S. objectives, as proposed by the report, are to disrupt terrorist networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, promote effective government in Afghanistan, develop self-reliant Afghan security forces, assist enhancement of civilian control and stable constitutional government in Pakistan, and involve the international community to actively assist in addressing these objectives.

Following the President's announcement, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) released a formal statement in support of the increase of U.S. troops headed for Afghanistan, but criticized the President for proposed military budget cuts.

"Today, our military is fighting with equipment that is decades old and a force structure that is 40 percent less than what it was in the 1980's," said Inhofe, who visited Afghanistan in December along with the other members of a Congressional Delegation, including Representatives Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), and Jeff Miller (R-FL).

The delegation met with General David McKiernan, Commander International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, at ISAF Headquarters in Kabul who briefed them on the status of U.S. and ISAF operations in Afghanistan. They also met with General Abdul Raheem Wardak, Afghanistan's Minister of Defense.

A contingent from Oklahoma, the Oklahoma National Guard, is scheduled for a agricultural mission in late 2009 according to Inhofe. Others from Rogers County will go as well.

The Oklahoma Air Guard based out of Tulsa, have also been told they will possibly be deployed to Afghanistan. The group returned from a 45-day deployment in November. Claremore resident, Jason Joslin, is a member of that group.


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