Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, in October, our troops will have been in Afghanistan for ten years. It is the longest war in our country's history. I am concerned that the mission has become more ambitious and our exit strategy has become increasingly vague.
This year is on pace to become the deadliest of this war. Over 1,600 Americans have been killed and 11,000 wounded in Operation Enduring Freedom. A 2008 study by RAND Corp. estimates that over 26 percent of troops may return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with mental health issues. In terms of financial costs, California taxpayers alone have
spent over $50 billion on the war in Afghanistan. According to the Congressional Budget Office, ending the wars could save $1.4 trillion.
The President's announcement that he will begin removing surge troops does not reflect a significant policy change in Afghanistan. Removing the 30,000 surge troops from Afghanistan over the next year and a half only means that by the end of next year, we will be exactly where we were before the surge in December of 2009. Roughly 100,000 American soldiers will remain in Afghanistan to fight a war that I have serious reservations about.
I urge President Obama to reconsider his Afghanistan policy and commit to a meaningful drawdown of our troops.