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Issue Position: Afghanistan

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STATEMENT BY ANN MCLANE KUSTER ON PRESIDENT OBAMA'S PLAN TO SEND ADDITIONAL 30,000 TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN

December 2, 2009

"We are at war with Al Qaeda because they attacked us -- and we need to make sure they cannot do it again. I am committed to finding the best ways to keep Americans safe.

I am sure this was a very difficult decision for the President. Unfortunately, the problems in Afghanistan exist in large part because the Bush Administration took its eye off the ball and got us bogged down in an unnecessary war in Iraq.

While I am pleased that the President has decided to set a timetable for drawing down our troops in Afghanistan, I do not agree with the decision to first send 30,000 additional troops. It is not clear that sending more combat troops is the best way to meet the real threat, as Al Qaeda disperses to Pakistan and other countries. This is particularly important as our military has been strained by six years of fighting in Iraq and eight years of fighting in Afghanistan.

I believe we need better cooperation and accountability from the Afghani government and we must demand a commitment from them to root out corruption. Instead of more troops, we should be sending more trainers to help the Afghan military provide better security for its citizens. Rather than a broad counterinsurgency, we need a narrowly focused mission, with clear, measurable goals for success. Our involvement can't be a blank check, and I appreciate the President's attempts to focus our mission.

While I would have made a different choice, I will of course support our troops in their mission. I very much hope that this new strategy will succeed so that we can begin bringing our soldiers home, give them the full support and veterans' assistance they deserve, and focus on the great economic challenges we face here at home."


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