Right now, approximately 110,000 brave American men and women--including many Hoosiers--are serving in Iraq, and 70,000 more in Afghanistan. Their service and that of those who have preceded them has been nothing short of exemplary and heroic. I have always voted to provide our combat personnel with the tools and resources they need to stay safe and effectively complete their missions.
I want you to know that the safety of our men and women in uniform is always my top priority and that I make my decisions based on what is in the best interests of our national security. During my three visits to Iraq over the past three years, I have met with our fighting forces and military leadership there and I have seen the situation change from a dangerous civil war to one where progress, while slow and painful, has been made and there is cause for cautious optimism about Iraq's future.
President Bush began, and President Obama is continuing, a responsible draw down of forces in Iraq; and in January 2009, an important new U.S.-Iraqi agreement went into effect which confirmed the Iraqi people's responsibility for their own security. I believe the United States should continue the transition to a more limited role in Iraq. That is why I support the president's goal of bringing home most combat troops by August of 2010 and leaving in place a sufficient U.S. military force to protect American personnel, conduct counter-terrorism operations, and help train the Iraqi police and military forces to take responsibility for their nation's security.
Unfortunately, the situation in Afghanistan worsened following security gains made soon after our invasion in 2001 as the Taliban has regrouped in parts of Afghanistan and even expanded their operations into neighboring Pakistan. I have visited Afghanistan three times over the past three years, and after having met with our leading generals and soldiers there, and also Afghan leaders, I believe achieving progress there is possible but will be difficult.
We can never forget that Al-Qaeda struck us from the remote safety of Afghanistan, aided by the Islamist Taliban regime which provided Osama bin Laden safe haven. The United States and our allies must not give up the fight there or let Afghanistan again become a terrorist base of operations. That is why I support the president's plan to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan and increase American aid to that country's struggling government. It will not be easy, but it is an effort we must make for the security of our country.