House Speaker John Boehner expressed sympathy on Tuesday for the top U.S. Army officer who died and the others who were wounded in an insider attack by an Afghan soldier in Kabul and called on President Barack Obama to rethink his strategy on ending America's involvement there.
"There have been far too many knocks on the door over the last 13 years, and … let us not forget that for at least one family, their lives have been changed forever," the Ohio Republican said. "Others are learning loved ones have been wounded. Our respect and prayers are with those families today.
"What happened today is not only a personal tragedy, but a setback that demands leaders in Washington and Kabul take time to assess the state of our shared campaign and the necessary steps forward," Boehner said.
Army Maj. Gen. Harold Greene was killed in the attack
at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University, a training center in Kabul. He is believed to be the highest-ranking American officer killed in combat since 1970 and the most senior U.S. military official killed in action in Afghanistan since the war there began in 2001.
Greene was the deputy commanding general, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan. An engineer by training, Greene was involved in preparing Afghan forces for the time when U.S.-coalition troops leave at the end of this year.
The attack, one of the bloodiest by an insider of the Afghanistan war, occurred when a gunman dressed as an Afghan soldier turned on allied troops. He wounded about 15 U.S. and coalition forces. They included a German general and two Afghan generals.
Boehner called the assault part of the Taliban's effort to highlight that U.S.-led forces will be pulling out of Afghanistan by the end of the year — "abandoning its weak and ineffective government.
"The Taliban wants everyone to know it will soon dominate all aspects of life in Afghanistan once again," he said.
The speaker said that he has told Obama "privately and publicly that my biggest concern is that America will end its mission in Afghanistan just short of the goal line. … I warned that if we did not demonstrate a determination to finish the job, we would be looking at a reversal of progress similar to what we have seen in Iraq.
"The national security interests of our country are too high, and too much sacrifice has been made to watch that happen.
"So let me reiterate," Boehner continued in a statement, "if the president decides to re-think his strategy — including withdrawals, deadlines, and policy restraints, particularly on certain associated terrorist networks — he will have my support."
He also called on Afghanistan's leaders to come together to end the bloodshed.
"The Afghan people need their leaders more than ever, and the international community needs confidence that the leaders of Afghanistan understand the stakes," Boehner said.
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