Our Military Involvement in the Middle East and Afghanistan

For over sixteen years, we have been engaged in a long and costly war effort in Afghanistan.

For over sixteen years, we have been engaged in a long and costly war effort in Afghanistan.  Over 2,200 American lives have been lost, with more than 20,000 Americans wounded.  Many more Afghans and allied force members have been killed and injured.  By most accounts, our nation has spent more than one trillion dollars on the Afghan war effort, with some studies suggesting the costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq together will push well past four trillion dollars when all related expenses are considered.

The Iraq war beginning in 2003 was a terrible mistake by our nation’s civilian leadership.  It unloosed horrific sectarian bloodshed and upheaval, and birthed the Islamic State (“ISIS” or “ISIL”).  Only the heroic sacrifices and commitment to duty of our military men and women prevented a more chaotic outcome.

The Iraq war beginning in 2003 was a terrible mistake by our nation’s civilian leadership.

Our initial military effort in Afghanistan was justified, given that the 9/11 attacks originated there.  After sixteen years, however, we are still spending billions of dollars per month in Afghanistan with no clear end in sight.  Our armed forces have eliminated most of the al-Qaeda leadership that existed in Afghanistan and killed Osama Bin Laden.  We should not indefinitely continue to engage in an effort to maintain order and guarantee the national stability of Afghanistan.  The Afghan people and their security forces that we have trained over the past 16 years must assert themselves and maintain social order.   Only the Afghans can determine the future of their country.

Congress must demand of the Trump Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State a defining strategy for the end of military involvement in Afghanistan.

Ibelieve we should not increase American troop involvement in Afghanistan, but should instead maintain for a limited period the current residual force that is now in Kabul and Kandahar.  It should be a priority for us to transition the remainder of our current military fighting force out of Afghanistan within a reasonable time period.

Congress must demand of the Trump Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State a defining strategy for the end of military involvement in Afghanistan. This strategy must take into account external forces from neighboring states that either actively sponsor or tacitly allow terrorist activities to be exported from within their borders. For sixteen years we have heard that we are “turning the corner” and that Afghan security forces are almost ready to stand on their own. That time has come, and I intend to hold to account anyone in our government who supports the status quo and fails to deliver a coherent vision for Afghanistan given its enormous cost.

Our country will need to maintain robust intelligence and flexible military special operations capacities to protect our nation from terrorist threats.

In the battle against the Islamic State (“ISIS” or “ISIL”) in Iraq and Syria, I do not support an increase in our current military ground forces.  The current strategy set in motion by the Obama administration employing air power and special operations forces to support government forces in Iraq, and Kurdish and local Arab forces in Syria has proven increasingly effective.  Ultimately, Iraqis and Syrians must defeat ISIS (“ISIL”) on the ground.  Once ISIS is defeated, the United States should be a part of vigorous diplomatic efforts to establish and support stable governments in Iraq and Syria; the latter must include efforts to ease the Assad regime from power in an orderly way.

Going forward, our country will need to maintain robust intelligence and flexible military special operations capacities to protect our nation from terrorist threats, particularly from elements linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (“ISIS” or “ISIL”).  However, such a capability to defend our homeland does not require a large American ground force overseas.

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