Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), shortly after returning from a trip to Afghanistan, said troop morale has increased there since the president announced he was sending 30,000 additional forces to the area.
“It helps the morale of our troops, that’s the bottom line,” Poe told HUMAN EVENTS Tuesday. “They know help is coming.”
Poe, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the delay after the request for more troops submitted Aug. 30 caused some concern, since the military expected the request for additional troops would be sent sooner and some troops were ending their tours of duty, which caused numbers to drop.
Poe and other U.S. House members met with Afghan president, Afghan security forces, and U.S. military generals stationed throughout Afghanistan on the trip, as well as many U.S. troops. Poe said he was extremely impressed with U.S. generals there and that the Afghan people were “very supportive” of the U.S. Poe said the increased troop numbers show the Afghan people the U.S. is committed to remaining there till the country can be turned over to Afghan security forces.
Poe, who last visited Afghanistan in December of 2008, also said he’s glad the president has changed his policy on imposing a 2011 deadline for troop withdrawal. Poe said the date is now seen as a reevaluation.
“It was a ‘surge and retreat’ policy that was announced,” said Poe. “They’ve changed that position. And I’m glad they have.”
When asked whether counterinsurgency could be successful in 18 months, Poe praised U.S. leadership in Afghanistan.
“This is a military operation; they will do the job that we’ve asked them to do,” Poe said, pointing out that it would take six of the 18 months just to get all the additional forces deployed. “If they need more troops, I think they will ask for more troops. So if they need them, we certainly ought to send them.
He said the White House needs to make sure it emphasizes that victory is something the U.S. believes in and its goal remains turning the country over to the Afghan people.
“I think that message needs to continually come out of the White House as strong as it possibly can,” Poe said. “That lets our troops know, our allies know, the Afghan people, and of course it lets our enemies know what our position is.
Another strategy Poe hopes the White House employs is moving forward on a diplomatic level to ensure the Taliban can’t find sanctuary in neighboring Pakistan.
“I flew up and down it [the border] in a Black Hawk helicopter,” Poe said. “You can see how easy it is to cross back and forth. They can only cross because of sanctuary.”
Poe said Pakistan needs to engage in “more than lip service” in this conflict and that the country’s enforcement of that policy is necessary for real security in the region. He said it’s ultimately a political decision that has to be made by the Pakistani government.