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March 27, 2009

Inhofe Reaction to Obama Afghanistan Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a Senior Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement regarding the President’s announcement this morning on his proposal on Afghanistan.

“I am pleased that President Obama listened to General McKiernan and commanders on the ground and I support the President’s plan to deploy an additional 4,000 troops to Afghanistan to continue to prosecute the War on Terror in Afghanistan,” Senator Inhofe said. “In addition to the earlier announcement of a 17,000 troop increase, the added several thousand troops will allow our forces to deny safe havens to Al Qaeda and the Taliban while hunting down their terrorist cells.  As we increase the number of troops in Afghanistan, we must ensure we have the right kind of troops and the infrastructure in place to support them.  However, as I've stated before, there is no purely military solution in Afghanistan.  Afghanistan is an international interest and requires an international commitment and support if we are to bring stability to this country and its people.  Support comes in many forms – government-to-government cooperation, military assistance from combat troops to trainers, civilian reconstruction teams, trade, and monetary assistance. Success in the war in Afghanistan is contingent on the cooperation its neighbors to include Pakistan, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran.  Finally, we must continue the training and development of Afghanistan security forces and the agricultural and infrastructure development if we are to achieve long-term success in Afghanistan.  I urge the President and the Secretary of State to continue to pressure NATO and our allies to sustain and increase their troop and logistical assistance, and for the international community to join us in bringing stability to Afghanistan.

“It should be noted, however, that this announcement comes at the same time that President Obama has announced severe cuts to the Defense budget.  My priority has long been to ensure our nation stays committed to providing the necessary funds to our men and women in the Armed Services.  In fact, all indications are that the only budgetary cuts on the table are cuts within the Department of Defense and at the expense of our national security.

 “The greatest trust placed upon Congress by the American people is to provide for their security by maintaining a strong national defense. Today, our military is fighting with equipment that is decades old and a force structure that is 40% less than what it was in the 1980s.  The Air Force has 2,500 fewer aircraft, the Navy cut its fleet size in half, and the Army reduced its force to half the number of divisions it had during the first Gulf War.  For the past 17 years, our military has been asked to do more with much less and much older equipment.  So far, the only area in the President’s budget that is considering being cut is defense. We have a responsibility to our troops and the American people to adequately field and fund a military equal to that which we are asking them to do.”  ###

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