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 results.
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 McCrystal. 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.