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McKeon assesses situation in Afghanistan

Posted: August 11, 2009 4:01 p.m.
Updated: August 11, 2009 6:36 p.m.
 
U.S. House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA) Monday praised the dedication and sacrifices of U.S. and international troops serving in Afghanistan following an official congressional fact-finding trip to the country last week.

McKeon also called on the President to provide the necessary time and resources for U.S. commanders, troops and diplomats to succeed in Afghanistan.

As the lead of a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) that visited Afghanistan from Aug. 5-6, McKeon met with senior American, international and Afghan military and civilian leaders, including General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan and NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF); Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, the senior U.S. diplomat to Afghanistan; and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Ranking Member McKeon released the following statement following his trip:

"Having just completed my first trip to Afghanistan in my new role as the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, I wanted to provide a brief assessment of the situation on the ground.

"The President committed to winning in Afghanistan and appointed a new leadership team to carry out his strategy. General McChrystal and Ambassador Eikenberry are outstanding leaders and are close to finalizing their assessment of what resources are needed to succeed in Afghanistan. I expect that they will provide their report to the President in the coming weeks.

"During our meeting, General McChrystal assured me that he would request the troops and resources needed to succeed. He stated he had thought long and hard about this and believed asking for the resources he needs to win was the ‘right thing to do.'

"The unknown is how the White House will receive these recommendations. Will the message be filtered or will the American people gain a better understanding of what is required for success in Afghanistan? Will the White House provide an assessment of what we can expect to achieve with additional resources? Members of Congress-and the American people-need to understand the risks to our troops and their mission if we fail to provide the resources requested by General McChrystal and Ambassador Eikenberry.

"Just as important, the President must allow adequate time to achieve success. Our troops, with renewed support back home and an updated counterinsurgency plan, must be given an opportunity to accomplish the tasks that the President has given them. Legislative cycles and elections-whether in the United States, Europe, or Afghanistan-should not drive the timeline. Similar to Iraq in 2007, events on the ground must drive our decisions.

"All Americans should be proud of the jobs our sons and daughters are doing in order to help Afghanistan and its citizens. With adequate time, resources and political backing from the President and Congress, our commanders and troops will help the Afghans defeat the insurgency.

"I was inspired by our visit to the Marines of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province. They are fighting in extremely difficult conditions at the end of a very long supply line. They are determined to win, and will win with the unflinching support of the American people. It is our duty as Americans to provide them all the help they need."

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