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Walter J.

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  • Afghanistan

    by Representative Walter B. Jones

    Posted on 2014-04-01

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    JONES. Madam Speaker, last week in a hearing of the Armed Services Committee, we listened to the concerns of Army Secretary John McHugh and Chief of Staff of the Army, General Ray Odierno.

    They appeared before the committee to tell us about the serious problems facing the United States Army, specifically, the difficult budget situation the Army is currently facing.

    It was my intention to ask the following question regarding the funding that is being cut from the Army: Why are we continuing to spend billions of dollars in Afghanistan when the money could be going to support our servicemembers? As I did last week, I would like to read a short paragraph from the World Affairs Journal entitled, ``Money Pit: The Monstrous Failure of U.S. Aid to Afghanistan.'' The article states that, in 2012, the United States budgeted $11.2 billion for Afghan military training, with another $5.8 billion for 2013.

    The article goes on to say: In Afghanistan, a big problem is illiteracy. Almost 3 years ago, when Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell IV, took command of the NATO training mission, he noted that ``overall literacy'' among Afghan military and police stood ``at about 14 percent.'' How can an illiterate policeman read a license plate, the General asked, how can a soldier fill out a form, read an equipment manual? Now, even though these concerns have been on the table for years, the special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction said in last summer's report: The literacy rate of Afghan security forces as a whole is 11 percent.

    Again, I want to repeat that, in 2012, the United States budgeted $11.2 billion for Afghan military training, with another $5.8 billion for 2013.

    Madam Speaker, for the United States to continue funding these Afghan security forces would be a mistake. It would put our servicemembers' lives in danger, and it would waste the American people's hard-earned tax dollars.

    Why are we, in Congress, not putting a stop to this abuse, especially considering this money flows freely overseas with little to no accountability? Last Friday, I had the privilege of speaking to around 100 people at an event in my district, and truly, almost everyone agreed with me that spending money we do not have in Afghanistan is a waste.

    Every nation that has tried to govern Afghanistan has failed, and this is no exception. It is my hope, along with my colleague, Jim McGovern, who has continuously worked with me on this issue, that the House leadership will allow debate on this failed policy in Afghanistan this spring or summer.

    We need to take the money that we are spending overseas, and we need it to benefit our own security forces and the problems facing the American people here at home.

    When I look at the bridges and the potholes and education and other needs in America and we are cutting those programs, why do we continue to borrow billions of dollars from foreign governments to prop up the Afghan leadership? It is nothing but a failed policy.

    In closing, I ask God to please bless our men and women in uniform, to please bless the families of our men and women in uniform, and I continue to ask God to continue to bless America.


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