Rep. Eric Massa Issues Response To President's Afghanistan Strategy
Today Rep. Eric Massa responded to President Obama's address to the nation on his plan to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. Rep. Massa previously called for an end to the war in a floor speech on November 4th, the 2,950th day of the war. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, House Homeland Security Committee, and a 24 year retired Navy Commander, Rep. Massa has been very vocal in his opposition to continuing this war which has cost the lives of 930 American troops and wounded an additional 4,434. To date, this war has cost America a minimum of $300 billion (prior to any new deployments), and this new announcement is projected to cost approximately $30 billion more per year or about $1 million per soldier. The current rate of spending in Afghanistan, prior to this new announcement, breaks down to over $100 million per day.
"I appreciate the Commander in Chief for taking the time to review his options before deciding what we will do in Afghanistan, but my 24 years of military service screams at me that this is not the right way forward," said Congressman Eric Massa. "Today marks the 2,978th day of the war in Afghanistan and I think that is long enough. The sacrifices in life and limb of our armed forces are immeasurable and I reject the notion that we must continue our occupation of Afghanistan to prop up a corrupt Karzai government."
"I also do not understand the arbitrary nature of the numbers presented. Why 30,000 troops instead of 40,000 or 20,000? Why start withdrawing these troops in July of 2011 rather than anytime earlier or later? If our mission is to destroy al Qaeda, then let's be realistic. There are about 100 al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and sending an additional 30,000 troops will be a powerful recruiting tool for them. If our mission is to kill or capture terrorists, then let us resolve to do so, not engage in nation building."
"My solution is to start withdrawing right now. We invaded Afghanistan with about 1,000 Special Forces units, and we can eliminate potential terrorist threats with strike forces like this. If we are going to start occupying countries because of about 100 terrorists, then are we prepared to invade Yemen or Somalia? Our service members and their families have sacrificed too much and we cannot afford to rebuild Afghanistan while unemployment in the U.S. is above 10%."
In the coming days, Rep. Massa will be participating in two important House Armed Services Committee Hearings. The first, which will occur on Thursday from 1:00 - 3:00 pm will include the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.
On Tuesday the House Armed Services Committee will also receive testimony from Commanding General Stanley McChrystal and the Ambassador to Afghanistan, General Karl Eikenberry.
"I look forward to asking Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, General McChrystal and Ambassador Eikenberry very direct questions on how we arrived at this strategy in Afghanistan, and why they support it."