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McKeon opposes Afghanistan withdrawal

Posted: March 10, 2010 2:53 p.m.
Updated: March 11, 2010 10:16 a.m.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, today delivered the following remarks on the House floor in opposition to a resolution that would mandate the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year:

"I would like to join my colleagues on the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees in opposition to this resolution. I am disappointed that the House Democratic leadership would allow this resolution to come to the Floor for a vote at this time. Some in this body would like to pull us back into the 2006 Iraq War debate.

"One only has to look to the headlines to know that our military forces are making progress in their offensive against Taliban insurgents in Helmand Province - even as they face snipers, mines, improvised explosive devices, and a skeptical Afghan population. The Kucinich resolution does nothing to advance the efforts of our military commanders and troops as they work side-by-side with their Afghan and coalition partners.

"Rep. Kucinich's resolution, if enacted into law, would mandate the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2010. Why now consider this resolution? Why second guess the Commander-Chief and his commanders so soon after the announcement of a new strategy?

"Four months ago, the President reminded us why we are in Afghanistan. It was the epicenter of where al-Qaeda planned and launched the 9/11 attacks against innocent Americans. The President recommitted the United States to defeating al-Qaeda and the Taliban and authorized the deployment of 30,000 additional U.S. forces. A portion of those forces have arrived and others are preparing to deploy.

"Like most Republicans, I support the President's decision to surge in Afghanistan. I believe that with additional forces - combined with giving General McChrystal the time, space and resources he needs - we can win this conflict. We do not have a choice. We must defeat al-Qaeda and the Taliban. This means taking all necessary steps to ensure al-Qaeda does not have a sanctuary in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

"At the end of last year, I had hoped that the war debate in this country had ended and we, as a nation, could move toward a place of action.

"During the debate last year, no one said that it was going to be easy. Operation Moshtarak has been successful but has not come without challenges. However, as we stand here today the Afghan flag is flying in Marjah's city center. This lone flag sends a clear message to Afghans that the central government is committed to the people there.

"However, this debate is not being conducted in a vacuum. Our troops are listening. Our allies are listening. The Taliban and al-Qaeda are listening. And finally, the Afghan people are listening. This resolution sends the message: ‘Pay no attention to the flag over Marjah. America cannot be trusted to uphold its own values and commitments.'

"Mr. Speaker, I want to send a clear message to the Afghan people and government, our coalition partners, and our military men and women - this Congress believes in you, we support you, and we honor your dedication. I urge my colleagues to vote 'no.'"


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