WAR ON TERROR: Oklahoma National Guard part of Afghanistan solution

Claremore Daily Progress

Claremore Daily Progress

WAR ON TERROR: Oklahoma National Guard part of Afghanistan solution

Inhofe weighs in on President's proposal

By Joy Hampton
CLAREMORE DAILY PROGRESS

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March 31, 2009 - Friday morning, President Barack Obama announced a new, comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, including an additional 4,000 troops on top of the 17,000 already slated for deployment to Afghanistan. Those numbers include Rogers County residents.

Airman First Class Steven Inman, a Rogers County resident and member of the U.S. Air Force, is currently in training at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev. He will be one of the 21,000 deployed to Afghanistan this year.

"He'll be home for a couple of weeks in May," said Steven's mother, Wanda Inman. Wanda is president of Rogers County Blue Star Mothers. "We've got several that are still in Iraq and the National Guard will be deployed again to Afghanistan. I do know we have several from Rogers County going to Afghanistan this year."

"The situation is increasingly perilous, said Pres. Obama in Friday's announcement. "It has been more than seven years since the Taliban was removed from power, yet war rages on. Insurgents control parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Attacks against our troops, our NATO allies, and the Afghan government have risen steadily. Most painfully, 2008 was the most deadliest year for American Forces."

Obama pledged more resources to be channeled toward Afghanistan.

"For six years, Afghanistan has been denied the resources that it demands because of the war in Iraq," said the President. "Now we must make a commitment that can accomplish our goals."

Obama was responding to the White Paper, a report by the Interagency Policy Group on U.S. Policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This report examines the national security interest in the region and assesses potential security threats "posed by extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

"In Pakistan, al Qaeda and other groups of jihadist terrorists are planning new terror attacks," reads the report.

U.S. objectives, as proposed by the report, are to disrupt terrorist networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, promote effective government in Afghanistan, develop self-reliant Afghan security forces, assist enhancement of civilian control and stable constitutional government in Pakistan, and involve the international community to actively assist in addressing these objectives.

Following the President's announcement, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) released a formal statement in support of the increase of U.S. troops headed for Afghanistan, but criticized the President for proposed military budget cuts.

"Today, our military is fighting with equipment that is decades old and a force structure that is 40 percent less than what it was in the 1980's," said Inhofe, who visited Afghanistan in December along with the other members of a Congressional Delegation, including Representatives Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), and Jeff Miller (R-FL).

The delegation met with General David McKiernan, Commander International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, at ISAF Headquarters in Kabul who briefed them on the status of U.S. and ISAF operations in Afghanistan. They also met with General Abdul Raheem Wardak, Afghanistan's Minister of Defense.

A contingent from Oklahoma, the Oklahoma National Guard, is scheduled for a agricultural mission in late 2009 according to Inhofe. Others from Rogers County will go as well.

The Oklahoma Air Guard based out of Tulsa, have also been told they will possibly be deployed to Afghanistan. The group returned from a 45-day deployment in November. Claremore resident, Jason Joslin, is a member of that group.