WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), tonight raised concern over President Obama’s announcement to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2011. Inhofe, who has long advocated for troop withdraw to be based on ground conditions, first raised his draw down concerns earlier this month when two units of the Oklahoma 45th Infantry, originally slated for Afghanistan, were re-missioned at the last minute to Kuwait.
“Tonight’s speech by the President was about fulfilling his political promise made back in December 2009 that there would be a troop withdraw beginning in July 2011,” said Inhofe. “It was not about achieving our stated objectives in Afghanistan, disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and its safe havens in Pakistan while preventing their return to Pakistan or Afghanistan.
“My concern is that our President is being pulled by the far left into a strategy of ending the war, not winning the war. While the President gave lip service to the conditions on the ground, it is clear that the decision to withdraw troops in July 2011 was made long ago. Our military leaders have warned that a hasty withdrawal could endanger hard-won gains against the Taliban and ultimately undermine security. I do not believe that conditions on the ground currently allow for a substantial reduction. It risks all the gains we have achieved to date.
“I spent New Year’s Eve with our troops in Afghanistan. During my visit, Afghan and coalition personnel unanimously told me that setting the July 2011 timeline to begin withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan had a devastating effect on operations. It sent the wrong signal to the Afghan people, our Coalition partners and Taliban. We must keep up the pressure, turn the corner, and stop the Taliban’s momentum. Otherwise, as our military leadership has said, our significant progress could be reversed.
“Having said all that, the biggest mistake our President is making is telling our enemy what we are going to do and when. Our enemy does not think like we do. We think in terms of hours and days. They think in terms of years and decades. If they know our plans, as our President once again provided tonight, they will simply sit back, wait, smile and rebuild.”