Reacting to early reports of the substance of the President's scheduled remarks on Afghanistan this evening; and following consultations with commanders on the ground, active duty and reserve troops in Tennessee, and military experts; Congressman Marsha Blackburn (TN-7) issued the following statement:
"As Tennesseans from the National Guard and the 101st Airborne Division prepare to deploy to Afghanistan once again, I have urged the Administration to adopt the same kind of counter-insurgency strategy that I believe has served us well in Iraq. I believe this strategy, as outlined by General McCrystal, to protect the Afghan population and enhance their government's ability to manage and defend itself is vital to our forces' success in the region. The proposal I expect the President to unveil this evening will go a long way to implementing that strategy."
"Let there be no confusion, this endeavor will be costly in terms of both lives and treasure. Tennesseans are deploying to a dangerous fight and every one of them and their families are in my thoughts and prayers. Still, early reports indicate that the President is mobilizing them under a strategy that can work, leading to a stable Afghanistan and a more secure America."
"I understand that the 34,000 additional troops the President is expected to send to Afghanistan will deploy quickly, in time to make a significant impact in the critical Spring and Summer to come. Their impact will only be lasting if their counter-insurgency work is augmented with a robust training regime for the Afghan Security Forces. To me this means engaging in the same side-by-side training program with U.S. Forces that has proven so effective in Iraq."
"There will be much controversy over the timeline that the President will propose. I regret that the timeline is not conditions based. Such a timeline will put pressure on our forces to act more aggressively to achieve their goals. The Taliban and al Qaeda will do their best to wait out our troops and resume their terrorist activity upon our withdrawal. That said, three years is a long time to endure the full force of the United States Military. I am optimistic that in three years time, we can inflict sufficient damage, while reinforcing Afghanistan's own capabilities, to prohibit an al Qaeda resurgence; so long as Congress resources their mission quickly and completely."