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Wicker Says Change in Leadership Will Not Change Mission in Afghanistan


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At the end of June, I joined my colleagues in unanimously confirming General David Petraeus as the Commander for international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. I have confidence in the General's ability to lead our men and women to success in Afghanistan. I hope Congress will exhibit the same bipartisan support going forward.

General Petraeus Right Man for the Job
The month of June produced countless magazine articles and news stories about our military leadership in Afghanistan. The careless comments by General Stanley McChrystal and his staff resulted in a difficult situation for President Obama, who decided to accept the General's resignation. I applaud his choice in selecting General Petraeus to lead our military efforts in Afghanistan.

While I support the President's choice, I was saddened to witness the abrupt end to McChrystal's impressive career. During his three decades of service, General McChrystal made our nation safer. As General Petraeus expressed during his recent confirmation hearing, the success of the surge in Iraq would not have been possible without General McChrystal's exceptional leadership.

We also must recognize the unwavering sacrifice of General Petraeus and his family as they once again answer the call to serve our country. General Petraeus is a true American hero and the right man for this job. His experience in Iraq and deep understanding of counterinsurgency provides our troops with the best chance to succeed.

Our military leadership changed unexpectedly, but our mission remains the same.

Why We Must Win in Afghanistan
Our forces are engaged in a civil-military campaign to prevent al-Qaeda and other extremist groups from establishing sanctuaries in Afghanistan similar to those enjoyed under Taliban rule prior to September 11. We cannot allow the Islamic fundamentalists to find safe haven in Afghanistan. We must learn from the past and recognize the dangers that arise when a power vacuum occurs.
Bordered by Iran and Pakistan, Afghanistan's geographic location makes it critical to U.S. security. Instability in this region can have grave consequences for the world. Our troops need to know that they have the support and backing of our government and the American people to carry out this dangerous mission.

Troops Need Time and Resources
Like many, I remember where I was the day the world changed on September 11, 2001. And like many, I was struck by the unity and resolve our nation showed the world in the aftermath. Nine years later, I am worried that the impatience of a few may jeopardize our ability to succeed in Afghanistan.

We have the strongest and best led military in the world. As I said during General Petraeus's confirmation hearing, the only way we could be unsuccessful in Afghanistan is if we have a government in Washington unworthy of the greatest fighting force on Earth.

Many Democrats in Congress, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, want to restrict emergency funds for our troops in Afghanistan. Rather than provide General Petraeus with the time and resources he needs to succeed, Speaker Pelosi and liberal Democrats are working to hold legislation hostage to achieve assurances of a troop withdrawal. This would harm our nation's security, prevent our generals from succeeding, and jeopardize the safety of our troops.

Alternative is Unacceptable
The recent Fourth of July holiday reminded me of the many obstacles we overcame and battles we fought to become this great nation. Generations of Americans in uniform have sacrificed their lives allowing us to wave the flag and enjoy our Independence Day parades.

Our country is still threatened by those wanting to destroy the fabric of our democracy. The challenges our troops face every day are real. June was an especially difficult time as we experienced one of the deadliest months for U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan.

Hard times will continue and casualties will increase. Rather than look for the exits, Congress and the American people should honor the sacrifices of so many and complete the mission.

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