The national security challenges facing our nation today are immense. They include the responsible drawdown of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan that must be concurrent with progress on security, an increase in well-trained Afghan security forces, a commitment to a transparent political progress in the country and the protection of the hard-fought gains made by Afghan women in the past decade; U.S. assistance to the victims of the conflict in Syria; halting Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon; supporting our stalwart ally Israel; and bolstering international efforts to combat the grave threat of nuclear terrorism. Senator Casey continues to work to pursue a national security strategy that protects our interests and supports those who serve their country.
Senate Caucus on Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism
Perhaps the gravest challenge facing our Nation is the prospect of a terrorist group detonating a crude nuclear weapon in the heart of an American city. Equally dangerous is the scenario of a terrorist group weaponizing a biological agent such as anthrax, smallpox, or a virus not yet known. Senator Casey is a co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Caucus on Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism. This caucus is composed of Senators who recognize the urgency and depth of the threat posed to the United States and its citizens by acts of nuclear, biological, and chemical terrorism and who work with leading experts to gain a better understanding of policy proposals to prevent, prepare for, mitigate, and respond to acts of WMD terrorism.
National Security Working Group
In 2011, Senator Casey was appointed to the National Security Working Group (NSWG). This bipartisan group was established in 1985 as a forum for members of the Senate to discuss arms control issues and observe arms control negotiations. It conducts oversight on the Executive Branch as it deliberates on treaty negotiations, pursues action through multilateral forums, and engages with foreign partners on critical national security priorities including arms control, missile defense, terrorism, and cyber security. This body allows the Senate to participate in the deliberative process of Executive Branch negotiations on some of the Nation’s most important security priorities. The NSWG has played an important role in the negotiation of every major nuclear treaty since 1985, including the original START Treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the SORT Treaty and the New START Treaty.
For more than four years, Senator Casey has worked to address the critical problem of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. IEDs are responsible for the majority of deaths and injuries among our servicemembers in Afghanistan. A key explosive ingredient in IEDs used in southern Afghanistan, calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN), is also used as a fertilizer and is produced in factories in Pakistan. Senator Casey has been adamant that the Pakistani government must significantly increase its commitment to regulating bomb components and preventing them from being smuggled across the border into Afghanistan.
In June 2010, Senator Casey introduced S. Res. 570, which called for an increased effort by the Governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Central Asian countries to effectively monitor and regulate the manufacture, sale, transport and use of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in order to prevent its entrance into Afghanistan. In July 2012, he met with Secretary Clinton to discuss Pakistan’s commitment to combating IEDs.
In March 2013, Senator Casey received commitments from the owners of the Pakistani factories that produce and distribute this fertilizer, the Fatima Group, that they have voluntarily halted distribution of CAN in the Pakistani provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan, which border Afghanistan.
Afghan women and girls and the 2014 elections in Afghanistan
Senator Casey introduced the Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act, which requires the Department of Defense and the Department of State to produce a detailed report and recommendations on efforts to promote the security of Afghan women and girls during the process of transferring security responsibility to Afghan forces. Senator Casey introduced this bi-partisan amendment with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas to the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Afghan women are not willing to give up on their rights and the U.S. needs to demonstrate its commitment to supporting them over the long term.
In May 2013, Senator Casey also introduced S.Res.151, which urges the Afghan government to ensure that women can safely participate in the elections. In addition, S.Res.151, expresses support for a transparent, credible and inclusive election process in Afghanistan in April 2014.
Addressing the crisis in Syria
As the need for greater humanitarian assistance and a stronger U.S. response to the Syrian conflict continues to increase, Senator Casey proudly introduced S. 617, the Syria Democratic Transition Act of 2013 with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. This bill includes a combination of humanitarian assistance, non-lethal equipment and training to the vetted elements of the Free Syrian Army, and sanctions against elements of the regime.
In April 2013, Senator Casey visited Turkey where he met with activists and leadership from the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime. He visited the Kilis refugee camp on the border with Syria where he met with Syrian refugees and toured the facilities.
Iran’s nuclear program and human rights
Since coming to the Senate in 2007, Senator Casey has supported a variety of measures to pressure Iran to respect international nuclear regulations and human rights. The Iranian regime’s efforts to develop and possess a nuclear weapon present a grave threat to the United States and our allies. In order to protect our national security interests, the United States must work with the international community to apply pressure on the Iranian regime.
Senator Casey has supported the continued use of economic and diplomatic pressure to impel Iranian regime to halt its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. For example, Senator Casey co-sponsored the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012. This amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act enhances sanctions imposed with respect to Iran. The act increases sanctions on the Iranian energy sector as well as its port, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors. It also places new restrictions on Iran’s ability to get insurance for these industries. In December 2012, Senator Casey joined Senators Menendez of New Jersey, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and 70 other Senators in sending a letter to President Obama regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The letter expresses the urgency in addressing the security threat posed by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capability. It also calls on the Obama administration to fully implement all existing sanctions and to adopt new, stronger sanctions.
Senator Casey is also deeply concerned about the Iranian regime’s ongoing human rights abuses, and has been outspoken about the need for increased U.S. and international attention to this issue. Senator Casey cosponsored S. Res. 75, condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.
Support for Israel
Israel is one of the United States’ most trusted allies. A stable and secure Israel is in our national security interest and has been a cornerstone of our foreign policy for more than half a century. The United States benefits enormously from cooperating with Israel on counterterrorism, intelligence and defense. Israel has shared innovative technology and equipment with the U.S. military, helping to protect our servicemembers in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The U.S. and Israel have also worked together to develop missile and rocket defense systems that will protect the U.S. and its allies. Finally, Israel’s strategic location makes it a valuable partner in collecting and analyzing intelligence on key issues in the Middle East region, including nuclear proliferation. It is clear that maintaining a strong relationship with Israel promotes U.S. security and advances our national interests.
Senator Casey is committed to strengthening the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel, and to promoting peace and security throughout the Middle East. Senator Casey has strongly supported the bilateral peace process between Israel and the Palestinians throughout his time in the Senate. In April 2013, Senator Casey visited Israel where he met with President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss security issues facing our countries, including Iran’s nuclear program and unrest throughout the Middle East.
Today, we celebrate the 378th birthday of the National Guard and the long tradition of citizen service in the United States. Today, the National Guard continues its dual service role to the states, territories and the District of Columbia as well as to the defense of the United States and its interests across the globe. …
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which has already passed the House and is likely to pass the Senate this week, contains language that would protect military assets, like Apache helicopters, from being moved away from Pennsylvania National Guard Units. The omnibus appropriations act also prevents funds from being used to divest these important assets in 2015. At facilities like Ft. Indiantown Gap and the 104th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion in Johnstown, PA Guard members play a crucial role in maintaining these assets and preparing them for use in the field. Moving these assets away from PA units could erode the role that the National Guard plays in the nation's defense and endanger the future of these facilities. Casey wrote a letter to Secretary Hagel on the issue and weighed in with key officials at the Defense Department. He also visited Ft. Indiantown Gap in October to speak with the Guard members who fly and maintain these helicopters. Read More
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the National Security Working group and former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, released the following statement on President Obama’s nomination of Dr. Ashton Carter as Secretary of Defense. Read More
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that language from his amendment to promote the safety, security, and rights of Afghanistan's women and children has been included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). During a critical period of transition in Afghanistan, the bill urges the Administration to work with the Government of Afghanistan on a host of protections for women and children. Read More
At a time when most foreign news is unremittingly grim, I have a good-news story to tell - about the first women-only restaurant in western Afghanistan, called the Scranton Restaurant.
That name reflects the fact that the restaurant is a joint project of a noted woman activist in Herat, Afghanistan, and her counterparts in Scranton, Pa., who raised $20,000 to get the restaurant started. The Scranton Restaurant is a rare place where Afghan women, young and old, can socialize outside their homes in safety. Read More
WASHINGTON - Halfway around the world, in western Afghanistan, the sign for a recently opened eatery bears a familiar name below its Arabic script: "Scranton Restaurant," it reads in both languages. Read More
President Obama made the right decision to review the U.S. strategy against the Islamic State. Two months ago, he laid out a comprehensive strategy for degrading and ultimately defeating the brutal terrorist organization. His administration has started to implement that strategy, making progress through airstrikes, support for local groups ready to combat Islamic State fighters, diplomacy and sanctions enforcement. Read More