U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell issued the following statement Wednesday following the President's announcement about troop reductions in Afghanistan:
"The hard-fought security gains made in Helmand and Kandahar provinces over the last year have come at a time when our forces still face a challenging fight in eastern provinces of Afghanistan. Our forces have fought hard to give the people of Afghanistan a chance at success. The drawdown of forces described by the President needs to be conducted in a manner that respects the professional judgment of our military commanders, preserves the security gains of the last year and allows for a slower pace of withdrawal if necessary. Al Qaeda has proven to be a resilient, lethal enemy and continued pressure must be brought on its senior leaders. The Taliban will not accept a unified, constitutional government in Afghanistan unless they believe that we are committed to denying them a return to power. Our NATO allies must remain committed to the fight even as this drawdown occurs and the combat power of ISAF is diminished.
"I was supportive of the President's decision in December of 2009 to order a surge of more than 30,000 brave Americans to Afghanistan to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to reverse the momentum of the Taliban and deny it the ability to control population centers, and to strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces, so that they could take security responsibilities from our forces. Over the last year our forces have made great progress toward those goals.
"No timeline for withdrawal should be so inflexible that it squanders the sacrifice of the generation that responded to the call of duty after the attacks of September 11. Our country is indebted to them, their commander General Petraeus and the brave men and women of our intelligence community."