Lieberman, Skelton: More Troops to Afghanistan

Monday, 19 Oct 2009 01:23 PM

By Jim Meyers

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Sens. Joe Lieberman and Ike Skelton have written an opinion piece urging President Barack Obama to send the "necessary forces" to Afghanistan to wage a war that they insist is "winnable."

Lieberman, an independent Democrat, is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and Democrat Skelton is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

They write in Sunday's Washington Post that Obama made the right decision last week when he ruled out withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

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"The key question confronting the administration now is not whether to pursue counterinsurgency in Afghanistan but whether to provide that counterinsurgency effort with the resources it needs," they state. "We believe that providing those resources will be critical."

The senators say they hope Obama will carefully weigh the recommendations from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and "provide his commander with the necessary forces and civilian resources he needs to properly execute a counterinsurgency campaign.

"Some suggest that we should send just enough forces to 'hold the line' against the Taliban and prevent them from retaking the major population centers, while continuing to build up the Afghan army and police. In our view, this course would probably be a prescription for stalemate — which, in a counterinsurgency, is a prescription for failure...

"Here at home, we must stabilize public support by convincing an increasingly skeptical American people that the Afghan war is in fact winnable. This will happen when Americans begin to see the kind of visible gains that only a properly resourced counterinsurgency campaign can achieve through the use of additional troops to establish security and additional civilian resources to aid governmental reform and economic growth."

Lieberman and Skelton warn that allowing the Taliban to return to power in Afghanistan would "represent a major victory for extremist forces throughout the world, tilt the balance of power in South Asia in their favor and further endanger America's homeland security from terrorists trained there."

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