I believe that our invasion and occupation of Iraq was unwarranted and have advocated for its end since my election to Congress. It has simply cost too much to American taxpayers, claimed too many lives and set too many military families into financial and personal crises. Yet, while it is critical to withdraw our troops in Iraqs, it must be done in accordance with conditions on the ground, rather than artificial, politically motivated timelines. This is critical if we want to prevent future conflicts that escalate to the point of future American involvement. I support President Obama's decision to end combat operations, and I applaud the President for first consulting with commanders on the ground in order to develop a comprehensive withdrawal strategy.
While the war in Iraq may be ending, our involvement int he security and development of Iraq will go on. As in the past, I will continue to support funding to ensure that our troops have the supplies and support they need to do their jobs safely. I intend to do the same for our diplomatic officials once our troops have returned home. In the interests of our national security and that of the Iraqi people, I believe the War in Iraq must be wound down strategically and not simply defunded abruptly.
AL ASAD, Iraq - Lance Cpl. Edward Martinez,(right) Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 engineer and native of Indianapolis, and Lance Cpl. Edward Hess, engineer and native of Erie, Pa., work to tie barbed wire to one of the remaining fence posts.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States justifiably sent troops to Afghanistan in order to eradicate al Qaeda and their Taliban supporters and prevent future violence against Americans. Given the importance of stabilizing Afghanistan and the surrounding region, I supported President Obama's decision, despite some initial hesitation, to deploy an additional 30,000 troops. This increase in troop numbers has proven to be successful in rooting out Al Qaeda, defeating Taliban strongholds and bolstering the Afghani government. Yet after nearly ten years of military engagement, this war cannot go on forever. To bring greater stability to the Afghan people, the focus of our military efforts must shift from combat to helping them rebuild their agriculture, transportation and education infrastructure. Having a U.S. troop presence may be necessary in the coming years, but we cannot allow this to be used as a justification for keeping American service members in Afghanistan indefinitely as we have seen in South Korea. Just as in Iraq, I will continue to support funding to ensure that our soldiers have the support they need to safely do their jobs until the country has been stabilized and they can return home.
MILITARY STRENGTH AND READINESS
Over the past ten year, we have asked a tremendous amount of our men and women in uniform--many of whom have been deployed for five or more tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Such repeated deployments put terrible strain on service members and their families which can require months or years to be fully overcome. While I understand the strategic need to redeploy troops with minimal rest, I believe that this should be withheld for only the most critical times when our national security is at imminent risk. We have the best trained, most powerful military in the world. However, these repeated deployments exhaust our troops, wear down equipment, and prevent our military from functioning at its peak capability. As we finally end our engagement in Iraq and our troops return home, I will advocate strongly advocate strongly for an extended rest period and not just redeploying them to Afghanistan.