President Obama has laid out his case for the United States plan to increase troop commitment in Afghanistan. I support his decision to deploy an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to decisively end the threat of a reemerging Taliban and al Qaeda. However, I would have preferred to send at least the minimum number of troops (40,000) that General McCrystal requested. We will be working with our allies and NATO to bring the troop levels up to face the challenges in Afghanistan.
While I support the President's decision to deploy more troops, I am disappointed he set a timeline for withdrawal. I have every confidence that we can achieve our goals and leave Afghanistan, but war does not conform to tidy end dates. If we leave before the mission is complete it will most likely mean that we will have to once again return to the country sometime in the future. Like the surge in Iraq, we must gauge our decisions as the situation develops on the ground. It is also my duty to ensure that our troops and their families receive all the support they need and I will be working with my colleagues to provide those resources.
Last week I, and other Members of Congress, visited our military leaders and troops on the ground in Afghanistan. We had several meetings around Kabul and we intended to visit Qandahar but security in the area was tenuous so we were not able to visit the southern city. I can tell you that the morale of our troops is high although they miss home and their friends and families.
Many of our troops are facing their third, fourth and fifth tours overseas and I know all of us are ready to see them come home safely. However, the final fight in Afghanistan is vital to protecting ourselves from the possibility of a failed Afghanistan state that will once again provide a base of operations for terrorist organizations. It is also important that we help protect Pakistan from destabilizing forces that seek to overthrow their government and obtain nuclear weapons. I believe that while Afghanistan is very different from Iraq, the institutional knowledge our troops have gained in launching a counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq will greatly assist them in their efforts to root out and kill our enemy and help the Afghanistan people continue to create a secure, peaceful, and democratic society.
Any time our military engages in conflict, all of us worry and pray for their safe return. If you are currently serving, thank you. Your service and sacrifice is deeply appreciated.
Member of Congress