WASHINGTON — As Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, presented a good face to the Armed Services Committee Tuesday, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., announced her continued demands for a specific withdrawal timeline for combat forces in Afghanistan.
“Billions of dollars of [taxpayer money] has been spent on a strategy whose long-term success is constantly undermined by Afghanistan’s uncertain government,” Gillibrand said in a press conference call. “I believe it is our time to refocus our American national security strategy. It’s time for Afghanistan to take responsibility of its own security.”
In January, Gillibrand, along with Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, presented the Safe and Responsible Redeployment of United States Combat Forces from Afghanistan Act, now pressing Congress passage of the bill.
She said the act will create a “sense of urgency” within the Afghan people and the Afghan government.
Even though Petraeus characterized Afghan President Karzai as a “willing partner,” Gillibrand was not as positive.
“The evidence is contrary [to the idea that] he is a willing partner, the evidence doesn’t bear it,” Gillibrand said. “He’s not doing the things he’s says he is.”
As Petraeus reminded the committee and the public that Afghanistan is the source of the war on terror, “that’s where 9/11 began — that’s where the plan was made,” he said, Gillibrand countered that in the last ten years, no terrorism attacks have originated from Afghanistan.
“The nature of al-Qaida has changed over the last 10 years,” Gillibrand said. “It’s become an organization worldwide and it does remote operations in inhospitable places, like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.”
Instead, Gillibrand’s legislation, co-sponsored by three other key senators, will refocus the conversation on national security policy, broadening its tactics and interests.
“We don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket,” she said.
Above all, both Gillibrand and Boxer stressed the need to bring troops home.
“This legislation makes clear our commitment to begin the phased redeployment of our brave military men and women from Afghanistan this summer and to have a plan in place to responsibly bring home all U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan,” Boxer said in a press release.