Bay Area House members differed Tuesday on President Obama’s announcement of plans to draw down U.S. forces in Afghanistan by the end of this year and completely end the U.S. military commitment by the end of 2016.
Obama said he will cut the current U.S. force of 32,000 troops to about 9,800 as the U.S. combat mission formally ends later this year; the remainder will stay there to focus on training Afghan security forces and on counterterrorism efforts. The 9,800 will be halved and consolidated in Kabul and at Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, over 2015, and fewer than 1,000 will remain after 2016 to staff a security office in Kabul.
From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:
“Today, President Obama announced a path forward to fulfill his core promise: to enhance the security of the American people, to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly, and to bring us closer to the day when all of our troops can come safely home.
“The course of action unveiled today moves our nation step-by-step to a conclusion of the long conflict in Afghanistan. This strategy will ensure our military maintains a strong enough presence to continue supporting counter-terrorism operations, train Afghan security forces, and build on the efforts to return responsibility for the safety of the Afghan people to Afghanistan’s leaders themselves.
“The longest war in American history is now coming to an end. We have reached this moment thanks to the bravery of our troops and the sacrifices they and their families have made over more than a decade of conflict. As these men and women prepare to return home, we express our unending gratitude for their service and rededicate ourselves to never lose focus on our common mission: to protect the security of all Americans, preserve freedom for all families, and promote peace worldwide.”
From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:
“I respectfully disagree with plans announced today to leave nearly 10,000 troops and an unknown number of contractors in Afghanistan beyond 2014 and to extend U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan until 2016.
“After thirteen years at war, it’s obvious that there is no military solution in Afghanistan and it is far past time to end the war and bring all of our troops home now.
“At the very least, Congress should debate and vote on this agreement that will keep our troops in Afghanistan for years to come and will cost billions more in spending. Enough is enough.”