Washington, D.C.—Today, House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) released the statement below in response to the Afghanistan and Pakistan Annual Review released by the National Security Council:


“For nearly a decade under the previous administration, the war in Afghanistan was under-resourced, lacking a clear strategy, and all but forgotten. Last December, I wrote the President a six page letter urging him to adopt a new counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. After reading the assessment released today, I am still convinced that implementing this new strategy was the right choice, and I contend that it is still our best chance for success in preventing Afghanistan from reverting to a safe haven for terrorists and their allies.


“I was very encouraged, though not surprised, to read about the tactical progress we’ve made under the new counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. Our men and women in uniform are the best in the world, and I have full confidence in their ability to carry out whatever mission they are handed.


“However, the report leaves many questions unanswered with regard to the way ahead. There is no clear outline of how our progress in the region can become sustainable, or how the Afghan government and security forces can prevent al Qaeda and the Taliban from reestablishing safe havens in the long term.


“We have made more progress in Afghanistan in this past year than we have in the many years before, but it is critical to our success that we address these outstanding issues. There must be reform to Afghan governance to lessen corruption and stop driving Afghan citizens into the arms of the Taliban. We must continue to work with the Pakistani government to convince them to eliminate Taliban safe havens in their country. And, we must have a clear idea of the situation that is necessary on the ground for us to fully transition security responsibilities to the Afghan National Security Forces.


“The NSC review shows us many good first steps, but we cannot ignore the need to fully answer how we can ultimately succeed in Afghanistan and help eliminate al Qaeda’s ability to attack the U.S. and our allies.”