WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today delivered the following opening statement at a SASC hearing on the current situation in Afghanistan with witness General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., USMC, commander of the International Security Assistance Force:
As prepared for delivery:
I visited our troops in Afghanistan in January. Despite the media’s focus on negative news, I saw firsthand that our troops have made significant progress.
- Almost 10 million Afghans are in school, with 42 percent of them female versus the 5 percent under the Taliban. 17 universities are also now open versus twounder the Taliban.
- Kabul International Airport is almost full of commercial aircraft.
- There are 12,000 miles of new roads.
- Support for ANSF is over 80 percent with support of the Taliban between 10-17 percent.
- ANSF leads almost all operations and they have won 90 percent of engagements and are securing 80 percent of the population.
Our military men and women have made enormous sacrifices over the past 12 years to make these gains. The sacrifices of our troops and their families during over a decademust matter.
There’s too much at stake for our national security and the stability of the region.
We can’t repeat the mistakes of the Obama administration in Iraq where the abrupt drawdown resulted in a deteriorating security situation, increase in violence, resurgence of al Qaeda-linked groups, and growth of terrorist safe havens.
We must ensure that decisions about the future of our mission in Afghanistan after 2014 are based on sound strategy and the facts on the ground.
To do that, we must trust our military commanders on the ground in Afghanistan, who have told me two things: 1. The ANSF has made great progress and is now bearing the overwhelming majority of the brunt of the fight against theTaliban, and 2. we need to continue to support the development of the ANSF,especially in the critical areas of developing enablers and fighting terrorists.
In Afghanistan, President Karzai’s refusal to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement—despite support by the Afghan people—has cast doubt about the future of Afghanistan’s security, stability and progress.
But Karzai’s irresponsibility in signing the BSA does not matter. The will of the people,including through the explicit endorsement by the elders and tribesmen in the Loya Jirga, make it clear that the next president will sign the BSA – we should plan to that outcome.
To abandon our efforts, due to the irresponsible acts of a president only concerned with his legacy and not the well-being of his people, would break trust with the Afghan people and most importantly break trust with our men and women in uniform. Their sacrifices and their efforts matter. They’ve made a difference and given the Afghan people a chance at a better future.