I take our nation's policy on Iraq and Afghanistan very seriously. I have met wounded soldiers in Colorado and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. We owe it to them to complete our missions and bring our troops home as soon as responsibly possible. For this reason, I have met with military commanders, experts, and diplomats to learn what our nation is doing well and what we can improve to finish the job. Each war has unique circumstances and unique solutions.
The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a mstake.It took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan. I have long advocated for a responsible troop drawdown coupled with increased training and autonomy of the Iraqi police and security forces. I have visited Iraq and seen the progress firsthand. By all measures, we have seen a reduction in violence as a result of our transition to a counterinsurgency strategy, yet several broader problems remain. Economic development, sectarian divisions, and a lack of trust in the central government are works in progress. But these are not roles for soldiers, they are roles for diplomats. We have recently met the August 2010 deadline for drawdown from Iraq that was promised to the American people. . I am pleased we have more than halved our troops since 2007 and are on pace to meet our 2011 combat troop withdraw goal. The role of the remaining US non-combat troops should be solely one of advisory and assistance.
In Afghanistan, I believe we lost valuable time and momentum by invading Iraq in 2003 before the Afghanistan mission was complete. We cannot correct the mistakes of the past, but we must move forward.. Over the past three years, various factions of the Taliban are resurgent throughout Afghanistan. This is a security and political threat to the US and Afghanistan. Sadly, to defeat them, we need more troops. To do this we must reengage our NATO friends and other allies to bring more nations to the table. Then we must better train and develop the Afghan National Army and police forces, including the identification and removal of Taliban infiltrators. Once we have sufficient numbers and confidence in our Afghan security partners, allied troops can better clear, hold, and build the Taliban safe havens--in both cities and the countryside. Lastly, the US and our partners must attack political corruption and ineffective governance head on. By developing the Afghan economy and restoring faith in the government, the hope is the Taliban will lose its primary recruitment tool. We must do this quickly and responsibly. Only then will we be able to discuss the future of our troops there.