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Senator Amy Klobuchar

Working for the People of Minnesota

Iraq and Afghanistan

For the past several years, the men and women of our Armed Forces have been asked to fight two separate, difficult conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Faced with tremendous challenges, our troops have responded with great skill, courage, and honor. Since these wars began, approximately 2 million U.S. troops have been deployed. Minnesota soldiers and airmen, National Guard Members and Reservists, have continued our state's proud tradition of military service to the nation. Thousands of Minnesotans in uniform have already served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many are still there. My thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.p>

visiting members of the MN National Guard in Iraq

Sen. Klobuchar meets with Minnesota troops in Fallujah

I have long advocated a responsible change of course in Iraq, with the redeployment of our combat troops and a policy that requires the Iraqi government to take responsibility for the security and destiny of the country. My own visit to Iraq reaffirmed my commitment to this change in course. Given our current economic challenges, our nation cannot continue to spend billions each month in Iraq while critical domestic priorities go unmet. Our men and women in uniform have done all we have asked of them, and while they continue to perform their duties bravely and honorably, long-term stability in Iraq cannot be achieved solely through military means. This point has been echoed by top military commanders in Iraq, by U.S. officials in Washington, and by the Iraqis themselves. Therefore, I believe we must commit to a new course of action which will allow our troops to return home from Iraq soon and safely.

Unfortunately, over the past seven years, the war in Iraq diverted significant resources from critical needs in Afghanistan. The Taliban remain an unrelenting threat to the Afghan government and to U.S. and NATO coalition forces, and continue to support the al Qaeda terrorist networks. In order to ensure that Afghanistan can no longer be used as a base to threaten America's national security, we must fully commit ourselves to implementing a responsible and realistic strategy to defeat the forces of extremism and to secure a stable Afghanistan free from terrorist influences.

Since coming to the Senate, I have focused on these priorities for Iraq and Afghanistan:

  • o Ensure that our troops have the resources and support they need to do their jobs and remain safe. I traveled to Iraq to see firsthand the service and sacrifices of our brave Minnesotans in the field, and to meet with U.S. and Iraqi military commanders and political leaders. I was overwhelmed by the courage and fortitude our forces are showing in the face of this challenge. I came home with a commitment to give our troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan the equipment and resources they need to successfully carry out their missions. In the Senate, I have supported funding increases for better and safer equipment, including to provide our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with mine-resistant combat vehicles and individual troop body armor, and to address shortfalls in critical National Guard equipment.
  • Support a strategy for the responsible withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and the transition of the U.S. military mission to limited operations in support of the Iraqi government. I have supported the strategy developed by U.S. military commanders to complete the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces in Iraq in August 2010 and to fulfill our commitment for the removal of all U.S. troops by December 31, 2011.
  • Emphasize the need for a clear and effective strategy for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. As in Iraq, there can be no purely military solution to this conflict. Instead, our military and civilian forces must work with the Afghan people to develop the infrastructure and institutions that are essential to developing confidence and a sense of investment in the country's future within the Afghan population. I am committed to working for a responsible strategy that demonstrates to the Afghan people that our commitment is not open-ended and that allows our soldiers to return home to their families.
  • Demand accountability for American funds. Since the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan began, there have been disturbing revelations that billions of dollars in American taxpayer money have been lost to corruption, fraud, and waste. There must be accountability for reconstruction funds that are intended to provide the Iraqi and Afghan people with the meaningful economic assistance they need to rebuild their respective countries. These illegal and unethical practices not only undermine reconstruction efforts, they hurt our troops in the field and impair their ability to carry out critical missions. In 2007, I co-sponsored a bipartisan provision in the Defense Authorization bill establishing an independent commission to increase transparency and accountability in wartime contracting. The commission, modeled after the famous Truman Commission during World War II, will address systematic problems with defense contracting by studying and investigating the impact of the government's growing reliance on civilian contractors to perform wartime functions. The provision passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by the President in early 2008, and the Commission has begun carrying out its assigned responsibilities to ensure accountability for U.S. tax dollars spent in Iraq and Afghanistan.

See Veterans' Section for Additional Legislation

As Minnesota's Senator, I will focus on these priorities going forward:

  • Responsible withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq. I will maintain pressure to implement a strategy that will allow us to bring our soldiers home, and turnover full responsibility to the Iraqi people.
  • Necessary support to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. I will work to ensure that U.S. military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan have both a clearly defined mission and the full military, diplomatic, and humanitarian resources they need to complete this mission and return home.
  • Protection of our troops. As I press for responsible policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, I will only advocate for actions that protect our troops in the field. Congress must continue to fulfill its Constitutional duty to exercise oversight of American policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • A civil national debate that makes America proud. As we in Congress, as well as citizens across the country, continue to debate the best strategy in Iraq or Afghanistan, we must remember that open discussion of diverse and divergent viewpoints is the foundation of our democratic system. Although we may disagree on tactics and strategies, in the end we all want what is best for our troops and best for our nation.

Links

Senator Klobuchar’s Offices

302 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Main Line: 202-224-3244
Main Fax: 202-228-2186
Toll Free: 1-888-224-9043

1200 Washington Avenue South, Suite 250
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Main Line: 612-727-5220
Main Fax: 612-727-5223
Toll Free: 1-888-224-9043

1134 7th Street NW
Rochester, MN 55901
Main Line: 507-288-5321
Fax: 507-288-2922

121 4th Street South
Moorhead, MN 56560
Main Line: 218-287-2219
Fax: 218-287-2930

Olcott Plaza, Suite 105
820 9th Street North
Virginia, MN 55792
Main Line: 218-741-9690
Fax: 218-741-3692