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Senator Inouye's Statement Following His Fact Finding Trip To Afghanistan And Pakistan


Location: Washington, DC

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye returned today from a fact finding mission to Afghanistan and Pakistan where he met with U.S. troops, U.S., Afghan and Pakistani military commanders, intelligence officials, and the Presidents of both countries.

On Saturday October 10 Senator Inouye met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at Gul Khana Palace in Kabul to discuss the war effort and the needs of the Afghan people.

Prior to his meeting with President Karzai, Senator Inouye met with U.S. troops in the area and toured a training facility where U.S. forces are training Afghan Army and Afghan National Police Officers.

On Sunday Senator Inouye traveled to Kandahar with General StanleyA.McChrystal and to visit troops and tour the Kandahar Hospital.

On Monday Senator Inouye traveled to Pakistan where he met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and his cabinet.

Senator Inouye also had the opportunity to meet with Hawaii based troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Pakistan he had lunch with Brigadier General Michael K. Nagata, who is from Pearl City.

"This morning, I returned from a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where I met with military and political leaders to get a first-hand look and a better understanding of the current situation in Afghanistan and to help me gauge its future prospects. While my trip was brief, I was able to visit with our troops, our coalition partners, and the Afghanistan security forces in order to hear directly from them about the mission they are all supporting."

"The message I heard most clearly from our officers, our enlisted men and women, and our coalition and Afghan partners was their steadfast belief in the mission in front of them and their faith in the achievable goal of providing security and stability to the people of Afghanistan. It was remarkable to hear from the troops on the ground, both coalition and U.S. troops, that they are fully committed to this mission and want to see its ultimate success. Despite the many challenges they face, the morale of our troops remains high and their fierce dedication to the mission was truly inspiring.

"Having served as an enlisted man and junior officer in World War II, I know what they're going through. I've tasted it. I understand the courage our troops display comes with great personal sacrifice."

"At this time, I believe General McChrystal's assessment of the current situation and his conclusions, including his assessment that coalition forces must have more daily contact with the people of Afghanistan, is correct and is what is needed if we are to achieve security and stability in Afghanistan.

"I had the opportunity to discuss with General McChrystal his assessment and the report he made to the White House. His focus on the population is a correct one. You can spend all the money in the world but if the people aren't with you then you're out of business."

"This strategic approach will mean altering our military strategy to focus on counterinsurgency, building the capacity and capability of the Afghanistan security forces, working with Pakistan to remove safe havens for militants that threaten not only Pakistan's stability but also our efforts in Afghanistan, and ensuring that appropriate resources are provided to accomplish this goal. As for the specific numbers of U.S. troops that may be required for this new strategy, I will await specific recommendations from the military and the Administration.

"I will listen most carefully and consider the views of our military leaders, our troops on the ground, the intelligence community and the administration."

"As the Chairman of the Appropriations committee I cannot and will not close my mind to the knowledge that for each 1,000 troops it will be an additional $1 billion of taxpayer support. I need not remind anyone that this is a time of global financial crisis."

"With that in mind, I will make certain that our men and women in uniform have everything they need to accomplish their mission. If, after further consultation and deliberation we decide we need 40,000 more troops or 50,000 more troops in Afghanistan, that's what we'll send but much more discussion has to take place before a final decision on troop levels can be made."

"There is no question that multiple factors are involved in achieving the goal of a secure and stable nation, and not all of them are under our control. While meeting with military and political leaders in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, I relayed the United States' continued commitment to this goal and also asked for the same commitment in return.

"It is my firm belief that if we leave now, the Government of Afghanistan will not survive and the consequences will be detrimental to the region and will ultimately threaten the security of the United States. For these reasons, I will continue to work with President Obama and the military to ensure that our troops on the ground have the resources they need to succeed in their ultimate objective of a secure and stable Afghanistan."

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