June 27, 2011

Manchin still pushing for fast withdrawal | Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG - Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he was disappointed the president didn't change the country's mission in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama Wednesday announced to the nation that 33,000 soldiers will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by next summer, 10,000 by the end of this summer. About 70,000 will remain in Afghanistan and the combat mission won't end until December 2014.

Manchin said he was disappointed. Reiterating financial constraints, a stagnant economy "and a death spiral of debt," Manchin said the strategy should be to hunt and eliminate terrorists.

"After 10 years in Afghanistan, we must choose what we as a nation can and cannot afford to do. The truth is we can no longer nation-build in Afghanistan at our own expense," Manchin said. "The Afghans need to take control of their own destiny. As I have said, it is time to rebuild America, not rebuild Afghanistan."

The nation has spent $443 billion on the war, he said.

"We need to stop pouring hundreds of billions of American taxpayer dollars into Afghan roads, Afghan schools and Afghan communities and start investing those precious resources here at home, in American roads, American schools and American communities," he said. "In the end make no mistake about it I strongly support our nation redirecting our resources to track down and eliminate terrorists wherever they hide."

The war in Afghanistan to track down al-Qaida and its leader Osama bin Laden and overthrow the Taliban that gave sanctuary to the terrorists was started by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks upon U.S. soil.

Bin Laden was killed two months ago by Navy S.E.A.L.s in a commando raid at a compound in Pakistan.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., made a statement on her Facebook site.

"As Afghanistan becomes more independent, I hope we will begin to quickly phase out U.S. military presence so long as the country is stable enough to continue efforts against al-Qaida and the Taliban," she said.

"I've said for some time that I have both strategic and budgetary concerns about our major military obligations around the world," Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said. "It is good to see the administration take significant steps toward a more targeted and lean mission in Afghanistan focused as it should be on eliminating Al Qa-ida but I want to hear more from our military leaders about why they think we can't reduce troop levels even more quickly.

"The troops have done a great job in Afghanistan and we owe it to them to bring home as many as we can if America's security can be maintained with fewer deployments," Rockefeller said.

Requested comments from Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., were not immediately available.

By:  Jess Mancini