Washington D.C.House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member, Congressman Adam Smith, released the following statement in response to the President’s State of the Union Address:

“Tonight, the President laid out a vision for United States foreign policy that will build on the success of the last four years.

“In Afghanistan, the brave men and women of our military and intelligence services have decimated al’Qaeda, including the death of Osama Bin Laden, and significantly weakened the Taliban. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are stronger than ever, and increasingly play the lead role in the security of their country. As the United States reduces its presence, the ANSF should increase its role. Ultimately, the Afghan people must be responsible for their own security and governance and, after ten years, we have done what we can to lay a foundation for their success.

“While significant challenges remain, and there are no certainties, I support the President’s decision to continue to reduce our presence in Afghanistan and redeploy a total of 34,000 U.S. troops by this time next year. It is the right decision for the American people and the right decisions for the Afghan people.

“The Administration has also done an effective job of pursuing al’Qaeda, and its affiliates, around the globe and working to confront threats to our national security as they continue to emerge and evolve in places such as Yemen, Somalia and Northern Africa. In Mali, the Administration has supported the efforts of the French, Malian and other regional powers to root out terrorists in the North. More broadly, it has also supported and coordinated with regional actors as they seek to confront the growing terrorist threat in the region.

“Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons, and, as we saw yesterday, the North Korean regime continues to pose a significant security threat. Without a doubt, North Korea and Iran pose significant national security challenges.  The Administration has responded forcefully to these challenges by imposing severely damaging sanctions on both North Korea and Iran, supporting our regional allies, and leading diplomatic efforts to dissuade these regimes from continued belligerent actions. The threat posed by both countries is real and will require a concerted effort by the Administration to unite the international community behind a path of diplomatic pressure to resolve.

“I support the President’s call to reduce the nuclear arsenal, which will strengthen security and help us address the most urgent threats of the 21st century.  We must reduce the dangers of nuclear weapons by preventing their proliferation to additional countries and potentially terrorist groups. We should also maintain the strongest and most persuasive nuclear deterrent in the world. We can reduce the size of our nuclear arsenal, potentially saving billions of dollars and strengthening national security, while at the same time maintaining a strong deterrent and the ability to destroy any entity that threatens our nation with nuclear weapons.

“The self-imposed threat of Sequestration represents one of the most immediate threat to our national security, and as the President said, it must be prevented. If it is not, it will restrict our ability to confront the wide range of national security challenges our country faces.  We have repeatedly heard from our military leaders that sequestration will be damaging to national security and I agree. It will also be damaging to our economy, and vital federal programs that support education, job growth, infrastructure and other important programs. The time is now for Congress to make difficult choices and find long-term solutions that provide economic stability and ensure national security.”