McKeon Op-ed: Obama Drawdown Is Cause for Concern

Jul 18, 2011
Defense Drumbeat
In a Washington Times op-ed published Tuesday, Chairman McKeon wrote that recent successes in Afghanistan should not be used as justification for withdrawing from Afghanistan. He argued progress in Afghanistan is fragile and reversible and should be vigorously protected:

“I am deeply concerned that the pace and size of the president's drawdown risks the fragile gains achieved by our troops since the surge was fully implemented in November. This drawdown will make it difficult, if not impossible, to press our advantage against the enemies that threaten our homeland.”

Chairman McKeon urged that close attention be paid to the advice of senior military leaders on the ground:

“Senior military leaders have been cautioning for months that the drawdown in Afghanistan should be modest and that a significant withdrawal would risk hard-won progress. Unfortunately, it seems the debate over the drawdown gave way to a sentiment Mr. Gates warned about in March. He said then, ‘Frankly, there is too much talk about leaving and not enough talk about getting the job done right. Too much discussion of exit and not enough discussion about continuing the fight. Too much concern about when and how many troops might redeploy, and not enough about what needs to be done before they leave.’”

Going forward, Chairman McKeon was clear in urging that the way forward in Afghanistan be guided by strategy, not politics:

“As the president implements his drawdown plan, I hope he will pay increased attention to the warnings of Mr. Gates and others. Moving forward, we must be guided by strategic objectives, not poll numbers. We must respond to conditions on the ground, not conditions inside the Beltway. Most of all, we must be driven by victory, not politics. For whatever disagreements we might have about military strategy, one thing remains certain: The United States cannot afford to abandon Afghanistan again.”

112th Congress