Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, made the following statement on the President's plan to withdraw forces from Afghanistan:
"Since the President took the commendable step of deploying a surge to Afghanistan in 2009, we have known that our hard-fought gains are fragile and reversible. That isn't my assessment, but the consistent opinion of experts both military and civilian. Our long struggle in Afghanistan has evolved from fighting season to fighting season; each one followed by a consolidation of gains and an assessment of our strategy.
In a few weeks, a new fighting season will begin. What surprises me most about the information I am receiving from the Pentagon is the President's decision to halve the U.S. troops during the same year that the Afghan forces will be in the lead across the entire country for the first time. Moreover, he is deciding to conduct a significant withdrawal U.S. forces by 2014 without respect to anything that may happen on the ground over the next 12 months. This approach seems to be needlessly fraught with risk.
"Our departing commander in Afghanistan, General Allen, indicated that he wanted a significant military capability through this fighting season -- perhaps as many as 60,000. Tonight, when the President unveils his plans to the American people, he needs to explain what caused him to disregard that perspective and approach."