After the U.S. and the Taliban agreed in the 1990s to a mutually agreed upon ceasefire, U.S. and Afghan troops violated the terms in 2001 to quell the refugee crisis. Another five years passed before lasting peace and new leaders emerged.
Today, the Taliban is strong and enjoys popular support. After more than 17 years, Afghanistan is in need of a peaceful, democratic nation. Two years ago, Afghanistan was elected to receive $15 billion in U.S. and international assistance over the next six years. The U.S. government sees Afghanistan as crucial to regional security and stability.
U.S. military leaders recognize that Afghan security forces have suffered 60 percent higher casualties than the insurgents in Afghanistan over the past two years. This defeats our goal of recruiting and training Afghan soldiers. Faced with the slow and frustrating process of recruiting and training, military leaders concluded that Afghan security forces cannot realistically achieve sufficient numbers to effectively combat the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The 2016 election campaign brought forward platforms from both candidates that called for a continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. However, no one suggested a U.S. or coalition force reduction now.
Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a three-month stopgap funding bill, which funds the U.S. military through March 23. We must conclude an agreement with the Afghan Government that will enable us to begin to reduce our troop level. We hope to accomplish this by mid-March.
The U.S. and the Afghan Government are engaged in deliberations aimed at finding an Afghan solution to our joint and common challenge of combating violent extremism and upholding international law.
We need your attention to help secure lasting peace in Afghanistan, a homeland that is vital to our collective security.
In developing your policies on Afghanistan, consider the following priorities:
• Evaluate the impact that the recent election has had on the peace process. Does it jeopardize our ability to achieve a lasting peace in Afghanistan? Have you consulted Afghans in Afghanistan on U.S. involvement in their country?
• Look closely at the forces that directly oppose the peace process. Do they have the power to prevent a negotiated settlement?
• Insist on enforcement of human rights laws and the prohibition of the use of torture. Don’t let money be a substitute for ethics.
• Investigate U.S. payments made to the Government of Afghanistan, considering the extent to which money is supporting the Taliban.
• Adequately prepare U.S. forces to leave a no-option-force in Afghanistan after March.
I urge you to write to your member of Congress, the president, and the secretary of state to support these priorities and responsibly reduce our military presence in Afghanistan. We are on a journey towards peace, and we know the potential is there. When you support U.S. interests and investments in Afghanistan, you help stabilize the entire region.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of these issues and sending a message to all U.S. forces, soldiers, diplomats, officials, as well as Afghan people, that America is committed to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.