Mar 25 2015

Graham on President Ghani's Address to Congress and the Future of Afghanistan

Contact: Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417 or Lorcan Connick (202) 224-5972

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai’s address to Congress and the future of Afghanistan.

“President Ghani is one of my oldest and closest friends in Afghanistan. I’ve known him for years and find him to be understanding of who we are as Americans. President Ghani recognizes and is deeply appreciative of the many sacrifices Americans have made in that country.

“I appreciate his work in tackling corruption in Afghanistan and working to create functioning institutions. President Ghani is part technocrat, part visionary leader – an incredibly hard combination to find in any country.”

On American Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan:

“I implore President Obama to adopt a conditions-based withdrawal, not a hard deadline. If President Obama moves to a hard deadline, we will put at risk all we have fought for and our homeland will again be exposed to future attacks.

“While I’m encouraged by reports that the Obama Administration may slow the rate of its military drawdown in Afghanistan this year, I remain deeply concerned by reports that the Administration is holding to an arbitrary calendar date for its significant drawdown plan next year – rather than relying on conditions on the ground. Such a course would put at immediate risk all gains achieved over thirteen years of war in Afghanistan.

“Our Afghan partners are stepping up to lead the fight to secure their country against insurgents and terrorists. Afghan forces are making real progress, but they will not have reached full capability by the end of 2016. A continued U.S. commitment is essential to help train, advise, and assist Afghan forces in certain critical military areas, including intelligence, logistics, combat aviation and airlift, and special forces. These are the same capabilities that Iraqi forces were missing when the United States precipitously withdrew at the end of 2011. We must not repeat this mistake. But that is exactly what will happen if President Obama insists on withdrawing from Afghanistan whether the job is done or not.

“A residual force in Afghanistan is a front-line defense for the United States. I’ve always believed our national security interests will not be judged by the day we leave Afghanistan, but by what we leave behind.