Wolf continues push for Afghanistan review panel
It’s the longest-running war in American history and nobody’s talking about, says a dumbfounded Congressman Frank Wolf.
Wolf is tired of the silence on the War in Afghanistan. He’s tired of the silence from his colleagues in Congress, and he’s tired of the silence from Democratic President Barack Obama.
“You’re the first reporter to ask me about Afghanistan in months,” Wolf, a Republican, said Dec. 14. “The questions aren’t asked at the White House … the president of the U.S. doesn’t comment on it.”
“People generally get interested in what the media is interested in,” Wolf said.
The 16-term U.S. representative from Northern Virginia is once again pushing the Obama administration to sign off on an Afghanistan-Pakistan Congressional panel to review America’s presence, mission and progress in the turbulent region.
Within the fiscal year 2012 budget, Wolf championed a provision to the defense spending bill providing $1 million to create an Afghanistan study group. That provision passed both houses of Congress yet the panel hasn’t been implemented by Obama, Wolf said.
Since the onset of the Afghanistan war in 2001, more than 2,000 U.S. troops have been killed. The death toll from all sides combined is estimated at more than 15,000.
More than 60,000 U.S. troops are currently on the ground in Afghanistan.
President Obama has maintained a policy that American forces will withdraw from the region in 2014, something Wolf did not comment on.
Wolf told the Times-Mirror he believes the situation in Afghanistan is gradually “getting worse” as the years go on. In his letter, he cited a recent Pentagon report stating the Taliban remains a threat and that the Afghan government is plagued with corruption. Moreover, insider attacks by Afghan forces on their NATO partners is up to 37 thus far in 2012, compared to two in 2007.
“Given this dreary assessment,” Wolf wrote to President Obama, “I remain deeply disappointed that you have refused to use the money provided by Congress to appoint the Afghanistan/Pakistan Study Group to review the U.S. strategy.”
With the recent election season, Hurricane Sandy, the looming “fiscal cliff” discussions in Washington and the Dec. 14 school-shooting tragedy in Connecticut, the war in Afghanistan hasn’t been a prime talking point of the president or the media.
On Dec. 13, Obama’s Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Afghan President Hamid Karzai will visit Washington D.C. in January to meet with Obama and discuss America’s role in Afghanistan beyond 2014, according to the American Forces Press Service.
“I personally have witnessed the fact that Afghanistan is moving in the right direction towards achieving the sovereignty and independent it has always desired,” Panetta said.
According to the American Forces Press Service, Panetta affirmed the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The defense secretary said America, with the help of 49 other countries, is working to help Afghan people be secure and self-governing.
Wolf said he isn’t calling for an outright withdraw of troops or taking a firm stance on support or opposition of the war.
“What we’re calling for is what we call ‘fresh eyes on the target,’” Wolf said.
Wolf said wants to see a panel of five Republicans and five Democrats with combat experience or military expertise re-examine the U.S. strategy and objective.
In July, Wolf and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) urged House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to hold a two-week hearing in fall on America’s continued presence in the region, a review that never took place.