Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) yesterday called for a swift and orderly end to United States military involvement in Afghanistan. They made this call in recognition that in the coming months the President will decide how quickly to withdraw troops and how many should stay in Afghanistan after 2014.
In their letter to President Barack Obama, the Senators urge the President to consider a plan to redeploy the majority of U.S. troops as quickly as possible, while fully protecting the safety of the remaining troops during this transition. Also in the letter, the Senators pressed that after 2014, troop levels should be set at the minimum necessary to pursue a limited counter-terrorism mission and assist in training the Afghan National Security Forces.
"Mr. President, our valiant men and women have fought bravely in Afghanistan for over a decade. But after twelve years of conflict, it is time to bring our troops home," the Senators wrote. "We urge you to heed the wishes of the majority of Americans by bringing our sons and daughters home safely and swiftly, and, in doing so, ending America's longest war."
Senators Merkley and Paul led an effort last December to include language in the National Defense Authorization Act that called for a swift and responsible end to the war in Afghanistan. The full text of the letter is below.
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to express our support for your decision to begin a swift and orderly end to U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan.
In your recent State of the Union address, you announced that 34,000 of our service members will come home in the next year. We applaud you for this decision. Your announcement is consistent with Section 1226 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which endorses a transition of the security lead to the Government of Afghanistan by mid-summer 2013, while drawing down U.S. troops consistent with this goal. It also states that the United States should end all regular combat operations by not later than December 31, 2014, and take all possible steps to end such operations at the earliest date consistent with a safe and orderly draw down of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
In the next few months, you and senior military leaders will make additional crucial decisions about the final phase of the conflict. These decisions include the pace of the drawdown during 2014, as well as the number of troops that will remain after December 31, 2014.
We encourage you to consider a plan that redeploys the majority of U.S. troops as quickly as possible while fully protecting the safety of the remaining troops during this transition. After 2014, we urge you to keep only as many troops necessary to pursue a limited counter-terrorism mission and assist in training the Afghan Nation Security Forces.
Mr. President, our valiant men and women have fought bravely in Afghanistan for over a decade. But after twelve years of conflict, it is time to bring our troops home.
In your inaugural address, you stated: "We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war." The next few months present a genuine opportunity to fulfill this goal in a manner consistent with core U.S. national security interests.
We urge you to heed the wishes of the majority of Americans by bringing our sons and daughters home safely and swiftly, and, in doing so, ending America's longest war.