Steube Voices Support for Withdrawing U.S. Troops from Afghanistan in House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing
WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Representative Greg Steube (R-Fla.) today voiced his support for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. Among the witnesses present for the hearing were Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, and Karen Freeman, Acting Assistant Administrator from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“I supported President Trump in ending the forever wars, I supported President Trump by putting a date certain for U.S. forces to leave Afghanistan on May 1st,” Steube said. “I supported that and I’m disappointed that the Biden Administration is kicking the can down the road until September.”
The United States initially sent U.S. troops to Afghanistan in October 2001 and a military presence has been stationed there since. There have been over 2,300 casualities in Afghanistan, with many more U.S. servicemembers returning disabled or suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
During his Administration, President Donald Trump negotiated a complete exit for U.S. troops by May 1, 2021. However, President Biden has announced that he will not completely withdraw U.S. troops until as late as September 11, 2021 – four months beyond the deadline.
Watch Steube’s full remarks here or below.
Steube: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the witnesses for being here today, I appreciate your time, and the committee appreciates your time.
I was in my first semester of law school when September 11th occurred, and the towers were hit. And I like many others of my classmates and others in my generation were moved and motivated by the events to serve our country. I graduated law school early, I enlisted, then I spent about a year and a half in the infantry. I spent some time after the infantry time in the JAG Corps. And to serve my country in the War on Terror I had the opportunity to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
I did not serve in Afghanistan, but at that time all of us that fought both in Iraq and Afghanistan, we knew what our mission and purpose was, and our mission and purpose was to rid the world of Al-Qaeda and terrorism, and Osama bin Laden so that we would not have another September 11th on American soil ever again, or have Americans attacked like they were on September 11th ever again.
We knew what our mission and purpose is, and today we don’t really know what our mission and purpose is in Afghanistan. Our soldiers who are there who are being attacked on a daily basis sometimes don’t understand what their mission and their service is right now.
In the intervening years from when I served, in the last 20 years, the United States has seen over 22,000 military casualties, including around 2,400 fatalities, just in Afghanistan. Congress has appropriated approximately $143 billion for reconstruction and security forces there. That’s more money than the State of Florida has in their entire budget for one year, $143 billion.
A university study recently issued U.S. Costs to Date for the War in Afghanistan, between 2001 and 2021, putting total costs at $2.26 trillion.
And that number includes: DOD and civilian agency costs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a portion of DOD costs since 9/11 above a baseline amount, veterans’ medical and disability costs (both from a physical standpoint and from a mental health standpoint), and interest costs on war-related borrowing.
We’re seeing 22 veterans a day commit suicide, a lot of them who served there and have mental health issues or PTSD because of the things they saw while they served there.
I supported President Trump in ending the forever wars, I supported President Trump by putting a date certain for US forces to leave Afghanistan on May 1st. I supported that and I’m disappointed that the Biden administration is kicking the can down the road until September.
The only argument that I have heard on the other side of this is we need to have a stabilization course to prevent terrorism from coming into our land. We have shown recently by the attack on Soleimani or attack recently in Syria the US military has the capability, if we need to, to strike all across the world at any point in time. We don’t need to have soldiers there who are continuing to get hurt or continuing to be killed when we’re spending the amount of money that we’re spending in Afghanistan.
I don’t know what we’re telling the soldiers right now what their mission and purpose is, I can tell you that the mothers and the fathers of these young men and women who are killed, or who are maimed, or who are injured while they are serving there, it’s very difficult to explain to them why exactly their soldier is stationed there and what exactly their mission and purpose is.
It’s time to bring our troops home. I support President Trump in May 1st, I support the Biden Administration- although I do not support them pushing it- we need to bring our troops home. Our Americans and our money and our service members should not be in Afghanistan. There’s no strategic purpose for us to be there, if we need to strike and there’s terrorists that we need to strike with we have the capabilities to do that it’s time to bring our soldiers home, and I yield back.”