Larsen Statement On President Obama's Plan For Afghanistan And Pakistan
U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement after President Barack Obama's announcement today of a coordinated plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Larsen traveled to Afghanistan over Thanksgiving, visiting with U.S. troops serving there and addressing how the United States and our allies can achieve success.
Today's announcement shows that President Obama and his team have conducted a thorough and comprehensive review of our policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
President Obama's review makes it clear that success in Afghanistan will require a substantial and sustained commitment from the United States military, civilian agencies, and our allies around the world. Our immediate goal must be to deny safe havens to terrorists who would do us harm.
In Afghanistan, the United States military must combine police training with anti-corruption and reconstruction efforts. The Afghan National Army (ANA) must increase in size and capability so the Afghan government can control its own security. Our commitment must be more than military and will require a surge of civilian experts in agriculture and education, engineering and law to help rebuild Afghanistan.
President Obama made it clear that he will not blindly stay the course, but hold ourselves accountable for progress on clear benchmarks. These include training Afghan Security Forces, routing out insurgents, strengthening Afghanistan's economy and government and dismantling the production of narcotics.
President Obama also made it clear that we can talk about Afghanistan and Pakistan separately, but we cannot deal with them separately. The President's comprehensive plan brings a coordinated approach to this volatile region.
In Pakistan, U.S. military assistance is necessary but not sufficient. We need the Pakistan Army to intensify their focus on counterinsurgency operations to eliminate Al Qaida safe havens, particularly in the ungoverned areas in northwest Pakistan.
President's Obama's plan is an important step to defend America and ensure that the Afghanistan-Pakistan region does not remain a safe-haven for the terrorists responsible for the September 11th attacks. I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues on the House Armed Services to support the men and women of our military serving in this region, and to provide oversight of the President's coordinated strategy.