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  • Progress in Afghanistan: The American Public Is Missing the Story

    General David Petraeus testified before Congress last week that progress is being made on the ground in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, American public support for the war is at an all time low.

    In the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on March 15, the mood was generally optimistic. General Petraeus expressed the need for a continued commitment to the counter-insurgency strategy that is proving effective.

    U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is not only centered on military actions to eradicate al-Qaeda and Taliban safe havens; it is designed to build the infrastructure and democratic civil society of a war-torn nation. The transition process starts this spring as stable areas are placed in full control of Afghan security forces. Aiding Pakistan–Afghan relations was also highlighted as being key to securing regional stability.

    The House voted last week against a resolution to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by this upcoming July. Those in favor of the Afghan mission understand that success does not have a timetable. The U.S. military is planning to withdraw all combat troops by the end of 2014, but conditions on the ground have to be met. President Obama has requested an additional $110 billion for military operations in Afghanistan for the 2012 budget.

    Progress has been made over the last six months, General Petraeus said, as territory has been stripped from enemy hands, Taliban members are laying down arms and reintegrating back into society, markets are gaining momentum, and children are going back to school. Most importantly, Afghan forces are assuming responsibility for the peace and security of their own country. However, Afghanistan is still in a fragile state, and the U.S. should make sure that positive changes become irreversible.

    General Petraeus believes that if those fighting the war on the ground believe we can and will win the war in Afghanistan; shouldn’t we, the American people, believe they can, too? As the U.S. and its partners face the final stretch toward lasting success in Afghanistan, it is our duty as Americans to cheer our soldiers on. If we want our troops to come home and leave behind a more secure and stable Afghanistan, we must give them the time and support they need to finish the job.

    Calandra Vargas is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Progress in Afghanistan: The American Public Is Missing the Story

    1. George Colgrove VA says:

      It is not that Americans do not understand. We do! We see this as a money pit and with no leadership from the federal government (i.e. DOD or the White House); we are concerned our men and women are in harm’s way with no one to protect them. We have spent over $7 trillion since 9/11 and we have done little to remove the fear of terror. We have lost ground to our enemy in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Libya and so on and so on. We are using trillions where our enemy is using hundreds of millions! Things are so convoluted we are not sure if we are supporting our enemy in Libya.

      The war has seemed to lose its original purpose and we the people are starting to think it is time to just defend America. Shore up our boarders and move our soldier home. Stop foreign aid. We need to start paying off our debt. A strong America starts at home. I have played games of RISK where I had strong armies in a wide parameter. However, as soon as another player got through my tough defenses, they just swept through my entire territory.

      We are weak inside our parameter. Financially, politically and sociologically. We need to restart our economy and our internal resolve for a better life for ourselves. Each of us needs to start seeing a personal motivation to move ahead. We need purpose and reason. We need real jobs we do not need killing machines. We need to fight the war the federal workforce has against America and start killing off the debt. We need a smaller federal government assigned to the specific tasks spelled out in the constitution. Once we are economically strong again, we may very well feel confident in our place on the planet. We are now heading the same path so many countries that are gone have gone. We want to survive. Afghanistan is not on that path, Libya is not on that path, and war is not on that path.

      Our strength economically has been the world’s strength. Let us get back to what we do well – innovate. Let us get back to an America that reaches to the far reaches of the outer limits, and not one of a killing nature. American exceptionalism goes beyond our willingness to enter into conflict, but also our internal drive to be more in every way. Fighting war after war and going deep into debt doing it is not being exceptional. If we can get back to the America that authored the amazing things that the world enjoys, the rest of the world may be inspired and see the benefits of a similar pursuit.

      For the defense contractors, let us open up space exploration and the commercial application of space to the private sector. Keep what is the Army’s to the Army’s. The rest should be open to the vast innovation and creativity of the American private sector. Space tourism, fabrication, exploration, and so on can be the driving force behind these contractors who can stand to garnish far more profit in expanding the human reach in space as opposed to killing humans on the ground.

    2. George Colgrove VA says:

      If we want to blow another $110 billion on this ongoing war, then the money has to come from somewhere else in the DoD budget. It should not add to the deficit. If we use one more "red" cent on this battle, they win. It is what they want. They will drag this conflict on until we are so far in debt we cannot survive as a nation. It is what they did to the Soviet Union – it is what they will do to us. By going into debt over this, we are helping the enemy. They are more than happy spending us into oblivion.

      I think it is best that we go back to the original budget as requested by the soldiers on the field and not the one bloated by the DoD. Once we know the exact amount we need, find where we can extract it from the existing DoD budget through permanent cuts, reductions or what have you. The DoD has used these crises as a means to increase their personal salaries, grow their already top heavy organization to an even more top heavy organization, build lavish office spaces in congested areas and expand the federal workforce as well as funnel cash to defense contractors for needless equipment or equipment that did not fill the job it was supposed to do.

      We need to start looking at these budgets for war thoroughly as the feds cannot be trusted with doing it themselves. $110 billion on top of the trillions we already wasted on Afghanistan seems to be high – for winding down a war. My gage is China. They are building a state of the art military as well as administering that military with only $93 billion! They have many times more soldiers than we do and we have about 2 million. We do pay lavish salaries and benefits to the 700,000 DoD CIV federal workers where China probably has very few civilians working for them and though we pay our soldiers much less than the CIV's they do get paid well – rightfully so – especially if they are in harm’s way! If China can build a state of the art military that makes the DoD quake in its boots, then I think Afghanistan can be fought for far less than $110 billion. The DoD just need to abandon its “at all cost” or “money is not a factor” frame of mind. Money is a factor – a BIG ONE! We do not have any!

      Let us see the budget for the continuing war and let us get the justifications for continuing fighting. Let us see the pre-bloat budget request made by soldiers and then let us start the debate.

      If we do decide to go with this, then lets WIN IT for God’s sake! 10 years is too long to fight a rag tag group – barely numbering in the 10's of thousands and spending a few hundred million!

    3. Lloyd Scallan (New O says:

      We all must support the efforts of our military. But, we should not allow these brave men and women to be exposed to death and injury for no other purpose

      that politics. 9/11 occured almost ten years go. Enough is enough. Even if it is possible to win in Afghanistan, what exactly do we win? Within weeks after our

      troups leaving, Afghanistan will again return to Afghanistan, just as Viet Nam did and Iraq is doing now.

      For once, I agree with some of the left-wing Obama supporters. The right is more opposed to the war and nation wide "support is at an all time low" exactly because of who is the Commander in Chief. Regarless of the spin from the media and the normal leftist "doves" (many have suddenly became hawks), most of the

      American public have absolutely no confidence in Obama and know him for what he is, a fraud.

    4. jim patterson, phoen says:

      I am pro military, pro capitalist conservative. I supported these adventures at first, but sorry… too much money and lives are wasted in Afghan, Libya, Iraq and for what? We'd have to stay FOREVER because as soon as we leave, and leave we must, they will all revert to what we all know they will revert to! NATION BUILDING? Now at first I bought this, but no no no, not any more of this. Lets gear up for a big giant splash and get who we need to get, then get out. We have a porous border to our south that needs looking after before these adventures.

    5. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      I hope we get our Trillion Dollars worth in Afghanistan, that warm fuzzy feeling we have for two seconds. Oddly, the Captive Media are sure to deny Americans even that! If not for Heritage Foundation, I wouldn't know. The exact same thing happened in Iraq, remember? I am sick to death of the three blind mice, ABC, NBC and CBS. Were it not for Progressive Pay Offs they would be underground, and not our Mortgages! Throwing Elections is a Crime (Billions in free political advertising) so I am not surprised the Captive Media continues to serve the Foreign Interest exclusively! They damn our military with faint praise! Impeach Obama, for sure, but if you don't get the Conspiracy (RICO) then Impeachment will backfire again.

      The three blind mice are Domestic Enemies! GE pays them off in exchange for tax write offs! It's a damn crime wave!

    6. Ronald J. Sakowski says:

      Our original objective should have been to purge /exterminate al-Qaeda, the core of the Taliban and then call a council of tribes meeting and inform them if they do not harbor terroists again, we will leave them alone. If they do not comply, then we will lay waste to the country. I do not believe that we should sustain more bloodshed in that country. Just go to Bethesda Naval Hospital and see the amputees there and listen to what they have to say. Sorry folks, we have made one huge mistake in being in that country. Bring our boys and girls home and give the entire military a rest.

    7. Calandra says:

      We are not leaving yet, we have to accept it and continue to support our soldiers. Complaining about the war will not bring them home but it will dampen their morale. If you know a soldier, encourage him! Send them presents and coffee! Let them know they are loved, even if the war is not.

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