Congressman calls for accelerated drawdown

U.S. soldiers and Marines detonate explosives near an enemy fighting position during combat operations near the Naghlu Reservoir in Afghanistan’s Kapisa province. August 2008

Representative C.W.Bill Young (R-FL) is the latest member of Congress to call for a speedy end to the war in Afghanistan.

“I think we should remove ourselves from Afghanistan as quickly as we can,” Rep. Young said in an interview with The Tampa Bay Times.

The congressman, a self-described “stay-the-course politician,” had previously been a strong supporter of continuing the war. He attributes his call for an accelerated drawdown to an email from a soldier in Afghanistan.

“I know the threat of casualties in war and am totally on board with sacrifice for my country, but what I do not agree with is the chain of command making us walk through — for lack of a better term — basically a minefield on a daily basis,” Staff Sergeant Matthew Sitton wrote in June, less than two months before he was killed by an improvised explosive device.

The letter was a personal reminder for Rep. Young of the costs of the war in Afghanistan. The congressman says he believes many of his Republican colleagues support his new stance on ending the war, though “they tend not to want to go public.”

In fact, a small but vocal group of lawmakers is working to speed up the Afghanistan drawdown. The bipartsan group includes Rep. Timothy Johnson (R-IL), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)”

The legislators point to the ongoing costs of the war — about $2 billion per week — and continuing instability in Afghanistan as evidence that the war is not worth the costs.

A majority of Americans agrees with this assessment of the war. According to a recent poll by the U.S. German Marshall Fund, 68% of American respondents favor either an immediate withdrawal or an immediate troop reduction.

However, some key members of Congress still argue that a faster drawdown “would be the worst possible course of action.” Others have called for keeping 20,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014, the planned withdrawal date for combat troops.

Experts say maintaining a military presence of this size in Afghanistan could cost $25 billion per year, an amount that the U.S., still recovering from an economic crisis, can ill afford.

Still, with staunch supporters in Congress, it seems that the war in Afghanistan will continue — backed by precious American taxpayer dollars.

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