Congressman Jerry Lewis Wednesday urged President Obama to follow the advice of military leaders in making decisions on troop strength in Afghanistan rather than make a dangerously large drawdown in order to appease his political backers.
"If we move to quickly to pull out of Afghanistan, we risk endangering the remaining troops and allowing the forces of terrorism to find a refuge once again," Lewis said in response to President Obama's Wednesday speech on Afghanistan policy. "Al Queda found a haven after we abandoned Afghanistan the last time, and we cannot afford to allow them back to nurture a second crop of September 11 terrorists."
Military leaders told the House Appropriations Committee that the troop surge in Afghanistan is having a similar beneficial effect to the one that turned the war in Iraq, Lewis said. The leaders have urged Congress to avoid dramatic decreases in troop strength to allow these successes to become permanent, and grant the Afghan security forces time to train and prepare to take over, he said.
Even after the death of Osama bin Laden, the threat of al Queda remains real, and the War on Terror is not ended, Lewis said. It would be irresponsible to allow a new wave of terrorists to be protected and trained in Afghanistan after all the expense and sacrifice by U.S. troops, he said.
"We must stay the course until we are convinced that the Afghan people and their security forces are capable of defending against the Taliban and its terrorist support troops," Lewis said. "Congress will insist that the president follow the advice of military leaders, not the anti-war movement that would have us walk away from this essential task."