Murkowski in Afghanistan

By Libby Casey
Senator Lisa Murkowski says she believes the troop surge in
Afghanistan will be effective, although it will likely cost more
American casualties. 
Alaska’s senior Senator returned from a brief visit to Afghanistan and
Pakistan yesterday Monday.  She and three other Republican members
of Congress went on the five-day trip at the invitation of the
Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Murkowski says they saw evidence that President Obama’s recent
decision to boost troops in Afghanistan is already having positive

The combination of the American, the NATO forces in conjunction with a
growing Afghan army presence is truly making a difference.  Slowly,
but it’s making a difference.
The group met with Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, 
Pakistan’s prime minister and its top military leader, as
well as the head of U-S forces in Afghanistan General Stanley
They also visited a police training center in Kabul, Afghanistan’s
capital, and toured a street bazaar in the village of Garmsir
(GARM-sir), in Helmand Province, the site of heavy combat in recent
years.  Murkowski says they saw evidence that Afghan forces are
contributing to SOME stability.
When we walked through the bazaar in Garmsir, we were with Marines,
yes, but those that were providing the protection for that village
were all local Afghani police force.  That was who was providing for
the level of protection and security in a community that just 2 months
before you were not able to walk freely through the streets.
But Murkowski and other Republicans warned that President Obama’s
plan to draw-down troops starting in July of next year is giving the
Taliban leverage, since they’re telling Afghans the American and NATO
forces will soon be gone.
If the mindset of the people of Afghanistan is well, we don’t know how
long the coalition forces are going to stick it out here, they may be
cutting and running pretty soon.  Maybe our best bet is to stay with
the Taliban, stay with the bad guys.
Murkowski says the extra troops heading to Afghanistan this year will
help rout out Taliban forces, but she cautioned that it will be a 
hard and deadly process.
Unfortunately I also believe because of this stepped – up presence in
this very, very difficult area we will see greater loss of life.  We
noted yesterday it was the worst day that we have had for casualties
in several months, and I think that it’s going to step up
unfortunately, but I do believe as we have seen everywhere the 
coalition forces have gone, we have seen improvement.
Murkowski says she was able to visit with a handful of Alaskans during
her trip, including a female Army solider from Anchorage, and a 
U-S-A-I-D worker from Eagle River.

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