Following several news reports of Afghan security forces killing U.S. military personnel, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) is once again urging the Obama administration to establish the Afghanistan Pakistan Study Group (APSG), an outside panel of experts that would review his strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Wolf successfully added a provision to the FY 2012 defense spending bill providing $1 million for the creation of the APSG and has been pushing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to set up the panel ever since.
In a letter to Panetta -- his ninth on this topic -- Wolf disputes General Dempsey's claim that progress in developing Afghan security forces has been made, citing several Washington Post articles that describe to recent attacks that claimed the lives of five troops, including Gunnery Sergeant Ryan Jeschke, a Marine who lived in his district.
"News reports indicate that 37 U.S. troops have been murdered by Afghan security forces in 2012 alone," Wolf wrote. "With all due respect, how can you state that Afghan security forces are making "steady progress" when they continue to gun down our forces?"
Wolf blasts the Obama administration's strategy on the war in Afghanistan in the letter, saying it is trying to ignore the war.
"I cannot remember the last time President Obama spoke publically about his strategy for protecting the Afghan population from the Taliban and insurgents, or responded to murders like that of Sergeant Jeschke, or provided his definition of long-term success or our ability to achieve it," he wrote.
Last month, Wolf joined Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) in asking House Speaker John Boehner to consider holding two weeks of hearings this fall on the war in Afghanistan and the situation in Pakistan.
The full text of the letter is below:
The Honorable Leon Panetta
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon Room 3E 880
Washington, DC 20301
Dear Secretary Panetta:
I received the enclosed letter from General Martin Dempsey on your behalf. I find it difficult to understand how General Dempsey can write that, "...we have made steady progress in developing Afghan security forces and do not support diverting resources to establish the APSG [Afghanistan Pakistan Study Group]" when twice this week we have seen Afghan forces murder U.S. troops. On August 14, the enclosed Washington Post article detailed the tragic news that three U.S. Marines were gunned down by an Afghan police officer after sharing a meal with him. Just this morning, The Washington Post reported that two more troops were murdered in Farah Province. News reports indicate that 37 U.S. troops have been murdered by Afghan security forces in 2012 alone. With all due respect, how can you state that Afghan security forces are making, "steady progress" when they continue to gun down our forces?
Given these continuing incidents, I am perplexed at how you can continue to hold the belief that spending $1 million to study our strategy in South Asia is "diverting resources." The funding for the APSG was included in Public Law 112-74, yet the Obama Administration has not exercised the authority made available in this law to establish the panel. As I have reminded the public numerous times, you served on the Iraq Study Group, which was successful. I do not know if the APSG would achieve similar results, but I simply cannot understand your reasons for opposing its creation if success is possible.
One of the Marines killed in these recent attacks, Gunnery Sergeant Ryan Jeschke, lived in my congressional district before enlisting in the Marines. His death, along with the other Marines and countless other service members murdered by Afghan forces, highlights the failure of the Obama Administration's strategy to ensure the safety of our own troops, not to mention the safety of the Afghan population. I am saddened that another American Marine has given his life for a war that the administration is trying its best to ignore. I cannot remember the last time President Obama spoke publically about his strategy for protecting the Afghan population from the Taliban and insurgents, or responded to murders like that of Sergeant Jeschke, or provided his definition of long-term success or our ability to achieve it.
Leon, our nation is at war and this administration has not made it a priority. Our fighting forces deserve to know that their sacrifices are understood and honored. Sergeant Jeschke was on his sixth tour of duty overseas, a reality faced by many troops and their families. Until this administration places the appropriate emphasis on the war in Afghanistan and educates Americans about our goals, Marines like Sergeant Jeschke, his fellow Marines and other U.S. troops will continue to die silently, with only a mention in The Washington Post and a folded flag from the commanding officer for a grief-stricken family.
Frank R. Wolf
Member of Congress
P.S. Leon, just yesterday, seven more of our troops were killed when their helicopter crashed in Kandahar Province. It is sad that you will not use the funds available to you for the APSG.