* Ms. BUERKLE. Mr. Chair, I rise in opposition to the Chaffetz Amendment to H.R. 1540, the Defense Authorization Bill. The amendment, if passed, would require the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan with certain limited counterterrorism operations permitted to remain on the ground.
* I appreciate the motivation behind the amendment because I too question the wisdom of our continued presence in Afghanistan. We are engaged in a protracted war there, and unlike our operations in Iraq, have yet to see stability and a solid foundation for independence emerge from the sacrifice of our men and women serving in Operation Enduring Freedom.
* While I believe that it is time to commence a timely discussion regarding Afghanistan, I do not believe that this amendment to the defense bill is the answer. The amendment short circuits the process necessary for thoughtful action and does not regard seriously the impact of the unintended consequences of immediate withdrawal on the stability of the region.
* U.S. forces in Afghanistan have made great strides in the last 6 months. In light of the recent death of Osama Bin Laden, the U.S. military must have the opportunity to consider the ramifications of his death on our current Afghanistan strategy. We have a short window in which the intelligence gained in his death can be leveraged successfully.
* How successful further action can or will be is unclear. Al-Qaeda may be able to regroup and revitalize. Regardless, immediate withdrawal will bring neither clarity nor stability to a region in which the United States has offered its highest currency, the blood of our young men and women in uniform.