Recently, in a prime time address delivered at West Point, President Obama finally announced his long awaited plan for a new strategy in Afghanistan. I believe the President made a compelling case for why it is absolutely critical that America defeat al Qaeda and prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies. The men and women of the Armed Forces are fighting a battle on multiple fronts against an increasingly sophisticated enemy. Providing additional manpower and resources to our troops is vitally important as we move forward.
The centerpiece of the President's plan is to add 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan. While I would have been more comfortable with the original recommendation of General McChrystal to increase troops by 40,000, I am still pleased with the addition of 30,000 new troops and the increased contributions of our NATO allies. This is a step in the right direction and will help us to secure this region and stop the progress of militant terror groups that wish us harm.
However, the President also made the troubling suggestion that our troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan in 18 months. While I have tremendous faith in the courage and ability of the United States soldier to accomplish his or her mission, wars aren't fought on timelines. Conditions on the ground and well defined benchmarks should be the measure used when deciding when our troops are ready to come home. We have an opportunity to win this war and we need to take it.
A little over a year ago, then-candidate Obama called this "a war of necessity," and "fundamental to the defense of our people." Now that President Obama has announced his decision to increase our troop levels, he has a responsibility to work to rally the American people and the Congress behind his strategy. Strong bipartisan support in Congress is paramount to ensure our troops get the resources they need to be successful. If the President is truly committed to winning by continuing to make the difficult decisions that a Commander in Chief is expected to make, I predict he'll have the support of the American people.
The President has committed America to Afghanistan more deeply than any of his predecessors. Now he must commit himself to winning that conflict. He must show our soldiers, our allies and our enemies that he has the determination to win and that he will fight through to victory. Wars are not won by artificial timelines and exit strategies. They are won by fierce determination and the will to win. Our soldiers have shown both these qualities on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The President needs to emulate their example. If he does, we will win. If he does not, he risks defeat.