Earlier this month, President Obama announced his counterinsurgency strategy for the war in Afghanistan pledging to deploy an additional 30,000 troops to the volatile nation. While President Obama's review of our strategy in Afghanistan was too prolonged and too public for a military decision made by the Commander-in-Chief, the President's decision to send in additional troops is appropriate.
I share the President's stated goal "to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future." The events of September 11, 2001 reminded us that we must fight terrorism where it resides so that we aren't forced to fight it on our own soil. Should Afghanistan revert to Taliban rule, the country will once again become a safe haven for al Qaeda -- the same group that masterminded the horrific attacks against the United States on September 11th. Even more alarming is that al Qaeda has a strong presence in neighboring Pakistan, which possesses nuclear weapons. Should the country be overtaken by al Qaeda, and or other extremists it becomes increasingly likely that those nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists.
We must deny al Qaeda a safe haven from which to plan and execute more attacks on Americans and our allies. We must reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan's future.
Afghan security forces are not yet prepared to take on the battle against the Taliban on their own. Without the additional U.S. troops, they could crumble and the country would fall back into the hands of insurgents who will inevitably allow al Qaeda to gain a stronghold. The objective is to maintain a stable Afghanistan that can fight off insurgencies and terrorist cells on its own.
While I believe that our troops cannot stay in Afghanistan indefinitely, I believe President Obama's reference to specific timelines for withdrawal is a mistake. Escalating violence in Afghanistan combined with growing dissatisfaction with the Afghan government, especially in light of the recent disputed presidential election, make Afghanistan increasingly unstable. A premature U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan would strengthen the insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan threatening regional and global security.
I recently voted with an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives to fund the additional troops that President Obama recommended be deployed to Afghanistan. We extend our prayers and gratitude to those brave men and women who will be called to duty in Afghanistan to preserve our security and promote peace. We can all take pride in their service. To contact me about this or any other matter, please visit my website at www.goodlatte.house.gov.