I respectfully urge you to support the rapid drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan beginning in the autumn of this year.
The primary military objective in Afghanistan has been to disrupt enemy forces in such a way that they would no longer be able to project terror within the United States. I think that our Armed Forces have certainly been successful in seeing this mission through.
Achieving this objective, alone, may not be sufficient reason to reduce our presence in Afghanistan. To truly appreciate why drawdown is preferable, one must only consider the clear differences between mission scope in Afghanistan now and that within Iraq in 2007 when troop numbers there were being similarly considered.
In 2007, following my own combat tour in Ar Ramadi in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, I supported the opposite of what I am now advocating in Afghanistan. Instead of reducing troops in Iraq in 2007, I thought then that a surge would be beneficial.
I was so convinced that the tipping point toward the sought-after success was being neared in Iraq then, that in September of that year, I rallied with fellow comrades within the Veterans For Freedom organization in Washington, D.C., and approached my Congressional Members to discuss with them passionately my support for increasing the number of troops serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
I am now pulling from that same combat experience and passion to suggest the exact opposite approach in Afghanistan.
The reason why troop reduction is necessary in Afghanistan now, but the opposite was required in Iraq in 2007, hinges on the fundamental difference in mission objective within the two countries.
Operation Iraqi Freedom had, from the beginning, a primary task that is absent from the Afghanistan mission presently: to promote a democracy where one had not previously been.
The mission in Afghanistan, on the other hand, has been almost solely to kill the enemy, with the caveat that Coalition forces would depart the country with it residing under auspices of an entity more beneficial to its citizens than the Taliban.
In 2007, I was sure that with additional assistance from Coalition forces, the Iraqi people would develop a working representative government of their own. To leave before this objective was complete would have been abandoning the mission and, worse, would have meant to those that of us that served there that our brothers and sisters in arms had died in vain.
The primary objective in Iraq then was a work in progress. This is not the case in Afghanistan today.
The primary objective of Operational Enduring Freedom is complete. Osama Bin Laden is dead and perhaps more importantly, so is a large number of his counterparts formerly in leadership positions within Al Qaeda. By most assessments, the terror organization within Afghanistan is in such shambles that it can hardly be expected to have the capability to attack the United States within in its sovereign borders.
That, Sir, is mission accomplished.
Contrarily, continuing our combat presence in Afghanistan past the summer season serves no practical purpose. Moreover, it is a financial burden that this country can not currently, reasonably, afford. And, worse, it puts our volunteers of the military unnecessarily in harm’s way despite the primary purpose of their presence having already been accomplished.
However, drawdown can not begin until the Taliban’s primary fighting season, the summer, ends. To reduce numbers now while the enemy is most aggressive would only serve to cause those that remain in-country to be increasingly vulnerable while the enemy is most violent.
For a similar reason, when proposed drawdown does initiate in September of this year, it must be swift. Once the United States government commits to bringing its troops home, it is my humble opinion that it must do so in a way pursuant to the best interest of those that have voluntarily served it in combat. And the best interest, in this case, requires either a number of troops on the ground sufficient to capably defend themselves, or no troops on the ground in harm’s way at all.
In other words, a prolonged and slow reduction of troops would place Americans in an unnecessarily vicarious situation and is simply not an option.
I urge you wholeheartedly, Sir, to please keep in mind that the dangers will likely increase for those Americans that remain on the ground within country as Coalition numbers dwindle in Afghanistan. It is my estimation that the shorter the transition period of the redeployment of troops from Afghanistan, the safer that transition period will be for those participating in it.
In closing, I simply and humbly request that you provide the same dedication in your efforts to serve the troops as they have provided in their service to us. I genuinely believe that the military’s best interest is served by supporting its redeployment from Afghanistan.
The troops require an advocate that will fight with vigor equal to their own, and with their well-being in mind. And, in this case, their well-being is best supported by a drawdown from Afghanistan that begins autumn, 2011, and, upon initiation, proceeds as rapidly as plausible until its completion.