Casey Statement on President Obama’s Address on Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, released the following statement after President Obama’s address to the nation:

“I applaud President Obama for taking a thorough look at all aspects of the issues related to Afghanistan, Pakistan, al-Qaida and the Taliban.  This comprehensive review and strategic analysis did not happen in the lead-up to the war in Iraq.

“I will now continue to do my due diligence to examine this strategy, be fully briefed and to question Administration officials on the details of the military and civilian aspects of the President’s plan.

“As a country, we deserved a full accounting of the challenges posed in Afghanistan.  And that’s what we got from the Obama Administration.  We also have a responsibility in the Congress to help get the strategy right.  I have worked over the past few months to discuss these issues on the floor of the Senate in a series of speeches.

“I traveled for a second time to Afghanistan in August and met with General McChrystal, President Karzai, the Ministers of Defense and Interior and Ambassador Eikenberry as well as other U.S. government officials.  When I returned to the U.S. in August, I met with Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates, National Security Advisor James Jones and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.  I read the full McChrystal report.  We have held several hearings on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  We will have more hearings and deliberation to examine the President's strategy and ask tough questions.  Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen will appear before the Foreign Relations Committee this Thursday to discuss the President’s plan.

“As we move forward, the Senate has an essential role to play in oversight and monitoring of our engagement in Afghanistan.

“The sacrifice by our armed forces has been considerable.  In Pennsylvania we have lost 38 soldiers in Afghanistan and 215 Pennsylvanians were wounded in action.  As we debate the President's plan in the Senate, I pray that we will be worthy of the incredible sacrifice made by our service members and their families.

“Our renewed commitment also needs an equal, if not greater, commitment from the Afghan government. Ultimately, the responsibility of defeating this unpopular insurgency lies with the Afghan government and its efforts to build up its army and police.  Anti-corruption efforts, providing basic governmental services as well as a strong and effective judiciary are also all essential elements of a comprehensive strategy to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda.”


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