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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

It is always tempting to say we ought to have a plan, but I think the purpose of this amendment is clear. It is to drive us out of Afghanistan on an accelerated time frame without regard for the conditions on the ground. And that is not only a mistake in strategy and detrimental to our security interests; it actually increases the danger to our troops and to coalition troops as well.

Timelines undermine their efforts. It discourages your friends, because they know you're not going to be there very long, it encourages your enemies because that helps them plan their assault against you, and it ensures that anybody on the fence hedges their bets because they know that you're not going to be around for very long.

And, Mr. Chairman, it occurs to me at a time when our government is wanting President Karzai to make difficult decisions, it is not particularly helpful for the minority leader to go over there and tell him how tired we are. Is that persuasive? Does that help him make the tough decisions to end
corruption and to stand up the Afghan police? Somehow I don't think so.

Mr. Chairman, I want our troops to come home as soon as they possibly can too, but I do not want the considerable sacrifice of blood and treasure that they have expended to be thrown away because of political impatience. That was the exact concern that numerous servicemen voiced to me when I was there with Speaker Boehner last month. They worry that Washington would throw away the important progress they have fought and died for.

Last Saturday, Mr. Chairman, in my district was a banquet to honor Armed Services Day. There were more than 1,200 veterans, people who are serving, the people who have served and their families. And numerous Gold Star families were there. The theme of the night was persistence. And you can tell from those families that have suffered the most and from those veterans that they did not want to have their sacrifice squandered away because of some Washington political compromise.

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