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Armed Services Hearing on Afghanistan

The Armed Services Committee is currently holding a hearing, “Security and Stability in Afghanistan: Status of U.S. Strategy and Operations and the Way Ahead.” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen will testify.

Watch the hearing live via committee webcast or on C Span 3.

Chairman Ike Skelton gives opening remarks:

Chairman Skelton: “Afghanistan has been the forgotten war. Opportunities have been squandered and now we're clearly seeing the effects. We must re-prioritize and shift needed resources from Iraq to Afghanistan. We must once again make Afghanistan the central force in the war against terrorism. Our national security and Afghanistan's future are at stake. Our allies and our partners must do more, but we must of course lead the way.”

Rep. Joe Sestak (PA-07) questions the witnesses on prioritizing Iraq and Afghanistan:

Rep. Sestak: “Admiral, I was struck by what you said — in Iraq we do what we must, in Afghanistan we do what we can. You know better than anyone else that Afghanistan is where it all began, as you were in the Pentagon that day, that the Pentagon and the twin towers were struck from Taliban, protecting Al Qaeda in unprotected areas… But US forces are only meeting 44% of the required US commitment to that for the army, and 34% of that for the police. That adds up to approximately 3,500 troops that we have not met our commitment to in the embeddingment of trainers and mentors. How can we point at NATO if we haven’t done what’s required?”

Chairman Skelton also issued the following statement on Admiral Fallon’s remarks following the hearing:

Skelton: War in Iraq Holds Back Effort In Afghanistan

Washington, DC — House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) reacted to today's testimony from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, concerning U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the House Armed Services Committee today that 'In Afghanistan, we do what we can; in Iraq, we do what we must.'

“This striking statement highlights the strain Iraq is placing on our force and how this affects our ability to achieve strategic victory in Afghanistan, the primary front of the fight against Islamic extremism. I find it troubling that our ongoing commitment in Iraq prevents us from dedicating resources in Afghanistan beyond what is necessary to prevent setbacks, as opposed to what is required to realize success.

“I have often said that Afghanistan seems like the forgotten war. I was assured by our witnesses today that the war in Afghanistan isn't forgotten, but it's clear that the stress on our military elsewhere has limited our ability to succeed in Afghanistan and has taken our attention away from this critical operation.”

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