WASHINGTON -- Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) issued the following statement tonight in response to President Obama’s announcement that he will send 34,000 additional soldiers and Marines, as well as trainers, to Afghanistan - the largest single U.S. deployment since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
“Tonight, President Obama did something his predecessor never did. The President laid out in clear, thoughtful terms a comprehensive and workable U.S. strategy on Afghanistan, one that was not about escalating the war in Afghanistan but ultimately about ending the war there.
“After three months of intense deliberations, the President concluded, rightly in my view, that the costs of leaving now - guaranteeing failure - far outweigh the costs of pushing on with a revamped strategy that I believe is the most likely to succeed. I strongly support the President’s strategy and will do all I can to ensure its effective implementation.
“I support the President’s strategy primarily because I agree with his conclusions - that this is the war the United States should have been fighting all along, given that the region produced the 9/11 terrorists, and continues to harbor al Qaeda and terrorist groups, who remain the most virulent threats to our country.
“I agree that the primary goal of the United States should continue to be the disruption, dismantling and defeat of al Qaeda and to prevent their return to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“And I agree it is critically important to put an Afghan face on the war effort by training national and local Afghan security forces so American, NATO, and Afghan forces together can create the conditions for our exit.
“In other words, the President’s revamped strategy is the exit strategy.
“The increase in troops will strengthen the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban. But the President’s strategy is about much more than a surge in troops. Knocking the Taliban back will provide enhanced security for Afghans, and it will ultimately allow our forces to transfer responsibility for security, governance and development to the Afghan government and people.
“We also need to create the conditions that will allow us to leave, including diversifying the economy, improving agriculture, and developing mining, oil and gas resources, to name just a few.
“A broader political strategy is also a necessity, and the President outlined more explicitly than ever before his expectations of the Karzai government.
“In addition, I support the expedited drawdown of American troops in Iraq to 50,000 by next August with virtually all troops out by the end of the following year.
“The value of the President’s speech tonight is that, after eight years of prosecuting a badly, under-resourced war, he is dedicating the military and civilian personnel and funding necessary, along with the 55,000 NATO troops already there, to achieve enough stability in Afghanistan for our troops to come home.
“If, at the end of this effort, we have helped stabilize Afghanistan - in both ensuring that the Afghan government prevents extremists from taking over and denies them safe haven and in enabling Afghans to take responsibility for their own security and development - we will have been successful.”
Listen to additional comments from Sen. Carper here.