Tulsa World: State Lawmakers Support Obama’s Afghan Decision

Dec 02, 2009
In The News

Members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation expressed support Tuesday — with reservations from several — for President Barack Obama’s decision to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to 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,” said Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, a veteran member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"I commend the president for making the difficult, but necessary, decision to provide Gen. (Stanley) 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.”

Republican Rep. John Sullivan said bolstering U.S. forces in Afghanistan is the right course of action and the best way to ensure success in rooting out al-Qaida 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,” Sullivan said. "Failure is not an option.”

Democratic Rep. Dan Boren, a member of both the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees, said the U.S. is not faced with any easy choices when it comes to Afghanistan.

"We have stretched our military and our resources very thinly across both Iraq and Afghanistan,” Boren said. "It is the responsible and necessary decision to move aggressively against the Taliban and al-Qaida to defeat them, and we all hope that this effort is successful.”

Republican Rep. Frank Lucas said Obama’s decision, while it does not reflect McChrystal’s request for 40,000 additional troops, shows a willingness to listen to commanders in the field.

"We must not allow the Taliban, al-Qaida or any other terrorist organization to continue to use this region as a safe haven,” Lucas said.

"The disruption of terrorist activities is essential to ensuring stability in the region, global security and the safety of every American."

Republican Rep. Tom Cole said Obama made a compelling case for why America must defeat al-Qaida and prevent its capacity to threaten America and its allies. However, he said he preferred the original recommendation from McChrystal for a surge of 40,000 troops.

Republican Rep. Mary Fallin, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said she was encouraged by Obama’s decision.

"This year has (been) the deadliest for our troops in Afghanistan since 2001,” Fallin said. "It has become increasingly clear to me that the resurgence of Taliban and al-Qaida activity in Afghanistan requires a strong response, both by the United States and our NATO allies.”

Still, Fallin said she remains concerned about whether 30,000 troops will be enough.

"I am also disheartened by this administration’s willingness to put an expiration date on this mission, once again demonstrating their lack of resolve in this region,” she said.

Inhofe also expressed concern over the long-term commitment, adding that setting a July 2011 date to begin withdrawing U.S. troops who may not be in place until next summer makes little sense.

Cole said he also was troubled by the plan to bring troops home in 18 months.

Sullivan said it is critical that the Afghan security forces continue to play a larger role in securing a peaceful future for their people.

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn did not respond to a request for comments.

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