Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) released the following statement concerning President Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan:

“President Obama’s strategy puts America’s focus back where it should be: on the threat from al Qaeda.  For far too long, we had no strategy and failed to devote the resources and personnel needed to defeat al Qaeda and deny it safe haven in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  While nothing about this region is easy, the President’s first-ever strategy demonstrates a stronger, smarter, and more comprehensive approach to countering al Qaeda and its allies.

“In Afghanistan, our commanders have been calling for more troops for years, and the President’s plan will nearly double U.S. forces on the ground, with a particular emphasis on training Afghan forces to secure their own country. 

“The President’s strategy also acknowledges that military force alone is not sufficient to achieve our goals.  He calls for major increases in civilian personnel to help do the critical counterinsurgency work needed to empower Afghans to reject the Taliban and al Qaeda.

“The President’s plan also squarely addresses the daunting challenges in Pakistan, where al Qaeda enjoys a safe haven.  In order for the Pakistanis to work with us, they need to trust us as reliable ally.  The President’s pledge of an additional $1.5 billion per year in non-military, accountable assistance to Pakistan will help demonstrate our commitment and bolster that trust.  At the same time, the President commits to the kind of tough diplomacy and direct engagement needed to boost Pakistan’s effectiveness in fighting extremists.

“There are no quick fixes to this problem, and we will continue to face setbacks in this difficult region.  But the threat from al Qaeda still looms nearly eight years after 9/11, and I am reassured that President Obama’s strategy finally puts us on a path to eliminating that threat.”

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