McKeon's Wish List For Afghanistan
Santa Clarita representative outlines what he'd like to hear the President say tonight.
President Barack Obama will give a live speech from West Point this evening, through which he is expected to announce his response to General Stanley A. McChrystal's request for more U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Nearly three months ago Gen. McChrystal predicted that the Taliban was gaining momentum in the embattled country, and that U.S. and NATO forces had one year to turn things around before it's too late.
Howard "Buck" McKeon, Santa Clartia's representative and vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee, spoke with reporters Tuesday afternoon, and hoped that President Obama would commit to staying in Afghanistan until the job is complete.
"I think the important thing we have to do is show resolve," said Congressman McKeon. "Show that we're not going to walk away from these people and leave them as we've done before."
It is expected that President Obama will boost troop levels.
"I encouraged him in a prior meeting to not shortchange the request of General McCrystal and the commanders in the field," he said. "The rumor is that it will be somewhat less than 40,000, but more than 30,000 [additional troops]."
While McKeon is still waiting for specifics, he says he believes the President has the information he needs to make the decision.
"I would have rather seen a higher number, but he is the Commander in Chief and he has all of the information from everyone at his disposal," McKeon said.
He went on to predict that the President will also request NATO troops, possibly in the neighborhood of 5,000.
After the details are worked out, McKeon hopes the troops are mobilized immediately to help turn the tide of the war.
"The next most important thing is the timeliness. How soon can we get these troops to the theater?"
Once the troops are on the ground, McKeon would also hope to see training of the Afghan National Security Force accelerated. Ideally, he believes that Gen. McChrystal's goal of building that force's numbers to 400,000 is sufficient.
In the final round of questioning McKeon again circled around to the fact that he believes the U.S. should always remember the most basic and prevailing goal of the war.
"The message to me is that we're there to win," McKeon said.