NBC: Local Lawmakers Respond to President Obama’s Proposal

Dec 02, 2009
In The News

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, responded to President Obama’s speech tonight on the administration’s Afghanistan policy:

“After such a long deliberation, I am pleased that President Obama announced his administration’s strategy for Afghanistan. Stability in Afghanistan is in the national security interest of the United States, and we must provide security for the Afghan people while building their capacity to provide their own security.

“I commend the President for making the difficult, but necessary, decision to provide General McChrystal with additional troops, and I support the President’s acceleration of the deployment of these additional forces, increasing the size of our civilian force, increasing the size of the Afghan National Army and Police, and increasing support and participation from the international community.

“If the Taliban or another terrorist group regains control, I have no doubt they would use Afghanistan as a base to launch terrorist attacks around the globe. Time is not our ally in this war as General McChrystal stated in his assessment.

“I am concerned, however, that we have the right composition of combat forces, support forces, and training forces to meet mission requirements. In addition, they must be provided with the funds and equipment necessary to succeed. The $50 billion the President set aside for Overseas Contingency Operations in the future has already proven inadequate for funding existing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan let alone increasing operations in Afghanistan. The burden of this funding shortfall is evidenced numerous cuts to Department of Defense programs. The greatest trust placed upon Congress by the American people is to provide for their security by maintaining a strong national defense. That includes funding, training and equipping a military during peacetime and at war.

“Unfortunately, the President is obsessed with closing our terrorist detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GITMO). Of course, I strongly disagree with his position on GITMO, and I would encourage the President to visit our facilities there as I have. It exceeds the standards of every prison in the United States, has the capacity to try the detainees before a military tribunal, and there has never been a documented case of torture there. Creating a GITMO North within the United States, as the President wishes, will not do anything except create greater risks.

“Finally, I question our long term commitment. Setting a timeline of July 2011 to begin a withdrawal troops from Afghanistan when the entire 30,000 troops will not arrive in theater until this coming summer makes little sense. As with Iraq, these forces need time to begin operations and become effective. I agree that any decision to decrease forces in Afghanistan should be based on events on the ground as well as on the assessment and recommendations of the commanders in the field. An arbitrary date only tells our adversary how long they need to wait us out. Everyone wants our troops home, but this can only be accomplished when conditions permit.”

Meanwhile, Congressman John Sullivan issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan.

“I am pleased that President Obama heeded the calls of General McChrystal to send additional troops and resources to Afghanistan. While this decision is overdue, I believe that bolstering our forces is the right course of action, and the best way to ensure our success in rooting out Al-Qaeda and the Taliban – we simply cannot allow these terrorists to gain a strong foothold or erase the military, intelligence and diplomatic gains we have made since 2001. Failure is not an option.”

“While I support the President’s decision to deploy additional U.S. troops, it is critical that the Afghan security forces continue to step up to the plate and play a larger role in securing a peaceful future for their people. As the Afghan security forces stand up, we can stand down.”

“However, I am concerned that President Obama could be giving our enemies comfort with his proposed troop withdrawal date of July 2011. It is vital that the President not set premature immediate timetables for withdrawal as it could embolden Al-Qaeda and the Taliban to continue their insurgency campaigns, and show a weakness of American resolve to win this war among the Afghan people and our allies.”

“My thoughts and prayers continue to remain with are our nation’s military men and women as they continue their tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. I know all Oklahomans are proud of these hard working men and women and are thankful for the sacrifices they and their families make on a daily basis to defend our freedom.”

Also, Congressman Frank Lucas reacted to President Obama’s Afghanistan strategy announcement. He says,

“After almost three months of waiting, I was pleased to hear that President Obama has finally made a decision on the recommendation of General McChrystal to send additional troops to Afghanistan. And while his decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan does not fully reflect General McChrystal’s request for 40,000 troops, it does show a willingness to listen to the recommendations of his commanders in the field.

“I agree with General McChrystal when he said, ‘while the situation is serious, success is still achievable.’ We must not allow the Taliban, al Qaeda, or any other terrorist organization to continue to use this region as a safe haven. The disruption of terrorist activities is essential to ensuring stability in the region, global security, and the safety of every American.”

This new deployment, along with the 22,000 additional troops President Obama authorized earlier this year will bring the total U.S. forces in Afghanistan to more than 100,000. 
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