Statement on Afghanistan
By Senator Lindsey Graham
I believe, based upon my many visits to Afghanistan, that General Allen has a sound plan for withdrawal and transition of U.S. forces to Afghan control. This plan has to be adequately resourced to be successful and I have not heard any criticism about the soundness of his plan.
It is my hope that General Allen will receive bipartisan support to execute withdrawal and transition in a sound way. He has earned the trust and respect of the United States Congress and the American people to execute this plan. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has had an unnerving tendency to change sound military plans for domestic political purposes.
General Allen’s plan will allow us to withdraw by the end of 2014 and put Afghans in the lead regarding their security throughout the entire country. The plan envisions a small counter-terrorism force left behind to ensure that the Taliban and Al Qaeda can never regroup to use Afghanistan as a staging area for future attacks against the United States. A follow on counter-terrorism force will provide airpower and Special Forces capability to the emerging Afghan Army and will ensure that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are always defeated in any future engagement. The size and shape of this force is yet to be determined but I believe it can be done with a fraction of the troops present in Afghanistan today.
It is very disturbing to hear reports that the Administration is considering accelerating U.S. troop withdrawals which put in jeopardy General Allen’s ability to execute his mission. The resources necessary for General Allen to orderly withdraw and transition cannot be jeopardized because of short term political considerations. That is why I have been a vocal critic of Republicans who arbitrarily suggest we leave. Likewise, the Obama Administration should not accelerate troop withdrawal based on polling for the upcoming elections.
When it comes to withdrawing from Afghanistan we should do so in a manner that will maintain America’s honor, reliability and national security interests. The question is not whether we withdraw, it’s how we withdraw.
General Allen has a plan for withdrawal and transition that will ensure our long-term national security interests. I should receive widespread, bipartisan support and President Obama should not undercut this plan.
The last war managed by politicians, Vietnam, did not go very well. Afghanistan is not Vietnam and the consequences of failure in Afghanistan are wide-ranging and will last for decades.
If any part of Afghanistan falls back into Taliban control it will put immense pressure on Pakistan, a nuclear armed state. The last thing the Iranians need to see from America is lack of will to finish the job in a sound manner in Afghanistan. How we withdraw in Afghanistan will shape our national security interests for decades.
I firmly believe General Allen has the right approach to withdrawal and transition. I will vigorously oppose any effort to change his plan because of short-term political considerations, regardless of party. I will stand with the Obama Administration if they stand with General Allen’s plan. If they attempt to micro-manage the war and change our withdrawal plan for election year politics, it will be a grave national security mistake and something the American public should consider when trying to pick the next President.