U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today introduced H. Res. 911 in the House of Representatives calling for an increased commitment in Afghanistan to stem rising violence and confront resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists. The bill – cosponsored by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) – makes it clear that such an increase cannot occur until we reduce our troop presence in Iraq.
“The simple message I hear from our troops and commanders is that we do not have enough people or resources on the ground to secure Afghanistan. The country is roughly the same size and population as Iraq and served as a haven for those that actually hit us on 9/11. And yet, despite all this, and despite a resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida, the administration decided that Afghanistan is only worth one-sixth of the troop commitment compared to Iraq,” Smith said.
"Afghanistan is central to the fight against terrorism, and we can no longer afford to have our attention and resources diverted from that important mission. This bill is crucial to ensuring that long overdue resources are reallocated from Iraq to Afghanistan. I congratulate Congressman Smith on developing such a responsible piece of legislation and look forward to working with him to see that it becomes law," Skelton said.
The Administration’s current policies for Iraq and Afghanistan create a massive mismatch in our commitments:
- Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. spent on foreign aid and diplomatic activities in Afghanistan and other Operation Enduring Freedom countries 31 cents for every dollar spent on similar activities in Iraq.
- The U.S. maintains approximately 25,000 troops in Afghanistan, compared to more than 160,000 troops in Iraq. Our continued, costly Iraq occupation precludes a sufficient troop increase in Afghanistan to confront a rising tide of violence.
The security situation in Afghanistan is dire. The United Nations reports that thus far 2007 is the most violent year in Afghanistan since 2001, with suicide bombings up 69 percent in the first eight months of the year compared with the same period last year. Al-Qaida regenerated much of its ability to attack the U.S. and has a haven in the Pakistan Federally Administred Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghanistan border. The Taliban spread into new areas of the country and is believed to be working with al-Qaida leaders.
To respond to these alarming developments, H. Res. 911 calls for the U.S., in partnership with our allies, to:
- Strengthen our long-term commitment to secure and stabilize Afghanistan and contribute the necessary levels of economic, civilian, and military resources;
- Increase military force levels in Afghanistan to a level sufficient to significantly improve security and stability in the country, prevent the return of a haven for al-Qaida and the Taliban, and enhance the ability of the Afghan National Security Forces to maintain long-term security and stability;
- Free up resources for Afghanistan by responsibly redeploying military forces in Iraq not essential for counterterrorism activities, training and equipping Iraqi security forces, or protection of United States citizens and facilities.
The full text of the resolution can be found at http://www.house.gov/adamsmith/afghanistanvsiraq.pdf.