Majority of Democrats & Growing Number of Republicans Vote for Garamendi Amendment for Responsible Drawdown in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives today voted on an amendment by Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA) to the Defense Appropriations Act that would reduce troop levels in Afghanistan to 25,000 by the end of 2012 and save American taxpayers $20 billion over FY2012. Text of the bill is available here. A summary of Garamendi’s amendment by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service is available here. The amendment failed to secure a majority vote, with 133 voting yes and 295 voting no.
"Our brave men and women are doing tremendous work, but they’re on the wrong mission in Afghanistan. We need to focus on Al Qaeda like a laser wherever they propagate, yes in Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and even the United States," said Congressman Garamendi, a Member of House Armed Services Committee. "Our overextended troops and their overstressed families deserve a rapid drawdown from Afghanistan so that they can continue their lives without the constant threat of tragedy inherent in engaging in a five-sided 33 year old Afghan civil war."
Experts have estimated that 25,000 U.S. troops by 2012 in Afghanistan are sufficient to carry out a limited U.S. mission in Afghanistan focused on eliminating remaining Al Qaeda operatives:
- Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations who has held various senior government posts, including serving as principal adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell, suggested transitioning to 10,000-25,000 troops by mid-to-late 2012 when he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May.
- Lieutenant General David W. Barno, Army (Ret.) and Andrew Exum, former active duty army officer who served in Afghanistan and was an adviser to General Stanley McChrystal, recommend beginning a phased transition to 25,000-35,000 troops in July 2011.
- The Afghanistan Study Group, a nonpartisan group of former government officials, academics, retired military officials, and public policy practitioners, suggests reducing troops to 30,000 by July 2012 and continuing to draw down further from there.