Washington D.C.House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement at today’s hearing on the use of Afghan Nationals to provide security to U.S. forces in light of the attack on U.S. personnel at forward operating Base Frontenac, Afghanistan, in March 2011:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling this hearing.  I would like to thank our witnesses for agreeing to come before us to testify about this subject as well.

“We ask our brave men and women in uniform to take on many risks and dangers in wartime, and they should not have to be concerned about being attacked by those whom they serve with or seek to protect.

“We in Congress, and those in the Pentagon, owe it to our military personnel to do everything we can to reduce this sort of risk.  Like the actions taken over time to reduce friendly fire casualties, eliminating the threat of “insider attacks” should be a high priority, whether from a private security contractor or member of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Hearings such as the one today are helpful in determining what drives these sorts of attacks, and what policy makers can do to prevent them from occurring in the future. It is our duty to do whatever we can to protect our men and women in uniform, and that includes preventing attacks from the Afghan troops that they serve with.

“In addition to presenting a security risk to our troops, attacks of this nature also undermine the trust between U.S. and Afghan personnel.  That trust is a key ingredient in our efforts to build the ANSF, and those forces are a key factor in our plan to eventually wind down our involvement in the war in Afghanistan. Similarly, if our military personnel cannot rely on those hired to guard U.S. bases, they cannot be effective.

“Again, I would like to thank our witnesses for appearing today and thank the Chairman for holding this hearing.  I yield back the remainder of my time.”