Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, backs a plan by President Donald Trump to reduce the number of American troops who remain there almost two decades after they first went in.
“It is time to bring our armed forces home from Afghanistan,” Maine’s 2nd District representative said in a prepared statement.
“We must and will continue to deter and defend against terrorist organizations that aim to attack the United States at home and abroad,” he said. “But that does not require that we continue indefinite troop deployments for the present mission in Afghanistan.”
It’s an opinion shared by Maine’s other member of the House, Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree in the 1st District.
“Since my first term in Congress, I have opposed America’s forever wars,” she said. “When children of returned veterans are serving in the same conflicts as their parents, it’s clear we have been engaged in these wars for far too long. “
Pingree called the withdrawal of 2,500 troops “a meaningful step toward finally ending our 19-year presence in Afghanistan.”
Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller said last week the country will withdraw thousands of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan by mid-January, shortly before Democrat Joe Biden takes the oath of office to replace Trump in the White House.
Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, told reporters the numbers will be sliced to 2,500 service members in each country to “defend our diplomats” and “deter our foes.”
There are now about 4,500 American troops in Afghanistan and 3,000 in Iraq.
Pingree said that Trump “has failed to invest in the diplomacy needed to maintain peace in the region. Instead of deescalating tensions in the Middle East, President Trump has provided military equipment for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and repeatedly and needlessly inflamed tensions with Iran. If the Trump administration were truly committed to a sustainable end to our forever wars, it would not keep the U.S. embroiled in conflicts in the region.”
Golden said he joined the Marines after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia to help bring justice to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, the planners of the attacks.
“We have killed Osama Bin Laden, and while Al-Qaeda remains a threat, our armed forces have demonstrated an ability to continue bringing the fight to terrorists worldwide,” Golden said, citing the successful slayings of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
“I believe that we can continue effective counterterrorism operations without prolonging our involvement in Afghanistan,” Golden said.
“Since 2001, the U.S. and our allies have attempted to build a self-sufficient Afghan government and military,” he said, but “nearly 20 years later, the Afghan government remains weak and is unable to defeat the Taliban.”
“We have sought to bring democracy to the Afghan people, yet today their government remains unstable and plagued by corruption,” Golden said. “We have tried to eradicate opiate production, but the drug trade remains rampant.”
Aside from killing bin Laden and other terrorists, “perhaps the only other success we have achieved is the education of millions of young Afghan men and women. That investment may be the best hope for peace and for Afghanistan’s future,” Golden said.
“These many setbacks, and too few successes, have come at great cost to our country,” he added.
Golden said that more than 2,200 U.S. military personnel have died in the fight and more than 20,000 have been wounded. Thousands of American contractors have also died, he said.
“Many of our servicemembers, veterans and their families continue to deal with the enduring, invisible wounds of war,” Golden said.
“And we have spent approximately $1 trillion of our nation’s wealth,” the lawmaker said.
“I support President Trump’s planned drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and I remain committed to protecting our national security,” he said. “It is my hope that President-elect Biden will support the same.”
Golden won a second term this month in a largely rural district that backed Trump’s reelection.
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