WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement after President Biden announced that United States troop levels in Afghanistan will reach zero by September 11, 2021.
“I have followed the conflict in Afghanistan for years in my oversight role on the House Armed Services Committee, and after my conversations with President Biden’s national security team I remain convinced that withdrawing our troop presence from Afghanistan is the right policy decision. It is also clear to me that adjusting the timeline was a necessity given that the previous May 1 deadline posed significant logistical challenges. Withdrawing our force too quickly would endanger more than 3,000 U.S. troops and 7,500 partner nation troops and this adjusted timeline will allow the Department of Defense and our allies to bring their troops home safely.
“I also agree with President Biden that we cannot wait for the perfect security conditions before withdrawing – to do so would mean our men and women in uniform would never return home. We must be clear-eyed about the likelihood that the Taliban may increase aggression toward U.S. and coalition troops after May 1, potentially making the mission more difficult, costly, and deadly.
“We must also be honest about our military presence on the ground, which both helps and hurts. Our presence has helped establish the conditions for an Afghan government and an Afghan security force, but support that requires our troop presence cannot continue in perpetuity. The risks and costs associated with our continued military presence are too high and having U.S. boots on the ground cannot guarantee a stable Afghan government.
“Our goal in the region has always been to prevent transnational terrorists from launching an attack against the United States or our allies, but there are other means to monitor that threat and manage risk and, at this point, the cost and risk of a continued troop presence – both US troops and those of our allies – outweigh the benefits.”