December 2nd, 2009
05:40 PM ET

Testifying on war strategy

After the U.S. strategy on Afghanistan was outlined in a speech on Tuesday night, Obama's blueprint faced tough questions from Congress on Wednesday. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill sharply criticized Obama's plan to start a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2011.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to testify and take questions as they try to promote the plan to Congress. Later in the day, the trio also appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressional hearings are used to evaluate or explore a topic, providing testimony and research about current issues.

Watch some of the grilling and read more about the hearings

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Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Elizabeth T.

    It is very difficult to arrive at a consensus of opinion as to how and when to get out of Afghanistan and exactly what we hope to accomplish. However, the decision has been made by our President to send more troops to the region which most have agreed will be a daunting task due to the location of places like Ft. Wolverine. It was mentioned that the Fort needed to expand at an impossible rate over the next six months to accommodate all 5,000 of the troops to be sent to the region.

    Would it not make sense to send and "army" of unemployed construction workers from the US ahead to do what they do best (plan, build, construct, lay new roads, etc) and leave the military work to the military. This way the Generals could concentrate on strategy and a lot of Americans would have jobs for which they would be paid so they can take care of their families in this country and continue to help our economy.

    Is this too simplistic?

    December 4, 2009 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. mike borrelli

    This war needs to end, now! We have spent years in Iraq and Afghanistan at the cost
    of thousands of our young soldiers lives. The U.S. has spent billions of dollars of our
    hard earned tax dollars on these wars while we americans are losing our homes, having
    a hard time surviving. There are no jobs and all the focus seems to be on fighting the
    terrorist, a fight that will not be won or ever end. There will always be terrorism in the
    world. They will move to Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Iran or anywhere else they can.
    How many countries can we continue to invade and chase these extremist. The important
    thing is to protect our own country, spend some of the billions on security here in the
    U.S. and let the other countries take care of themselves. We need jobs not war!
    Continuing this war will only add to the already frightening death toll and the out of
    control deficit.

    December 3, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Daniel Swart

    I believe that if the troop surge can work in Iraq it will work in Afghanistan. Sen. McCain needs to take a step back and realize the election is over. If he doesn’t stop distorting the facts and using his position for his own personal gain people will start to label him Joe Lieberman.

    December 3, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bily Poteet

    Never..Never..Never gonna win that war over there.. Meanwhile our ecomomy is going down the tubes faster than the titanic. If we need to win that war overthere then lets do it and quit pussy footing around about it. Pull a Harry Truman and lets get this thing over with where we can put a billion dollars a day back into the economy and help our people. The time for revenge on 9/11 has long since past.. I for one would have liked to see George take care of this but he didn't. He went the wrong direction probably for reasons that we will never know. But I tell you this..This is not the Answer...This is Just gonna produce more body bags and crosses in cemetaries and tear up more families for absoultely no reason... Stop the insanity..

    December 3, 2009 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. Harbeer singh

    presidents surge of troops was a good decesion to bring normalacy in a region which only saw wars over and over. setting time frame is also was a wise thing for Americam people to openly show the results instead of hiding something and revealing lateron is not a good politics, to be clear is a wise leader secondly Idon't think Talibans have any difference of time frame,Afghanistan needs to be clean from preachers of the foreign countries like Saudia arabia, Pakistan and other arab world who come and teach hatred to these people by the name of almighty god.Ithink strategy will work and save lives of other troops who are deployed there. Afghanistan government needs to build their safe security system which secure the country and corruption and serve common people and needs to be close alll fanatic madrasas.and open normal schools for both boys and girls

    December 3, 2009 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mike Myers

    To get into more conflict in Afganastan is a big mistake.We should be pulling out our troops and taking care of the people at home and protecting ourselves at home not abroad.To get deeper into war will not solve any problems only cause more.We voted for Obama to end the war not escalate it.

    December 2, 2009 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dominic Candeloro

    This is the same crap we heard about Vietnam and Iraq. The only real success we had was with Bush one and the real coalition that stopped the invasion of Kuwait. I wish the Pres and the policy well, but am very skeptical. Most of my adult life we have been misled by military people who haven't got a clue about operating successfully in other cultures. I am an "expert" in Italian American studies and have visited Italy 35 times and speak the language. As "smart" as I am, I am clueless about Italian national and local politics and would never presume to advise the Pres on policy regarding Italy. We don't know enough about Afghan language and culture or that of Pakistan to develop and apply such an aggressive policy with any clue as to whether it will be effective or not. It's a crap shoot. And we have to pay the losses in the lives of young people (rhetoric notwithstanding). But I guess this is the trap we get into when we accept American super nationalism and American exceptionalism as Gospel.

    Dominic Candeloro

    December 2, 2009 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. robert

    first of all making the call on weather or not we are nation building is going on in afganistan is not the call of media. As a soldier my view is that inbeding of the media is a bad idea you show every mistake we make and show none of the good our troops do. The schools we have built or the water treatment facilities we have helped rebuild. We need to tie the hands of the troops on the ground. furturther more our president needs to rethink the time line. WE need to stop Al quida and it's supporters regardless of the cost. If we don't we made the worst mistake we could have ever made

    December 2, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. SUMITA SEN

    I strongly oppose President Obama's decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan. For past 9 years US has been sending troops, dropping bombs and searching for Taleban, but what the trrops have found?-nothing except the fact that innocent civilians have been killed. I do not have even 1% confidence that this war in the name of finding Laden and his group will result in any kind of benefit. President Bush has made a mistake by declaring the war on Afghanistan which gave back nothing but millions dollars spending on the troops and lives of innocent people which can not be determined by money. Now again Mr. Obama is repeating the same mistake. Why can not US leave Afghanistan iissue if it can not bring peace in that country using good paths? War was never ever a solution for bringing peace in any country. Civillians who were never a part of terrorists, children who never knew what a bomb is, are getting killed. I watched videos and saw how people are starving to death, people move from one place to another in search of a piece of bread, and the US Government is spending this much amount on military account! Why can not that money be used for humanitarian works. Afghanistan is mostly dry and hilly country, people there need to get sufficient food first, they need to get modern technologies like communications, transportations, they need good education. This war will just destroy country's heritage. When I heard Lord Budhha's statue which was there even in Taliban's period also, was destroyed by just single bomb, I thought why people kill people, why do they fight and what is their motive actually? I urge to the whole world community to stop such barbarian acts, no more war, and let all of us work together to bring peace in the world so that our coming generation can not curse us for making this world an ugly place.

    December 2, 2009 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lorraine

    I am in full support of more troops in Afghanistan if that's what the military officials on the ground there say they need. it seems that people have forgotten what our reasons for being over there are. 9/11!!! well over 3,000 people dead in NYC and DC. 3 US passenger jet planes were converted into WMDs to murder innocent civilians on OUR soil and the plans stemmed from terrorists from the Afghan/Pakistan region, not Iraq. we wasted YEARS in Iraq when our focus shouldve been where it is now. Obama is doing what Bush should have done to begin with. Saddam was a terrible man, but he did NOT have to be dealt with then and there. If Bush hadnt switched focus like that then Obama wouldnt have to be doing what he's doing now.

    December 2, 2009 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MAJ Eric Brown, US Army

    The President's Speech lastnight listed milestones for success – he has now taken the guidon as CINC. Gen McChrystal stated in his accessment that this war would be won or loss within the next 18 month. The President has given 30K troops and 18 months to win or lose it. President Obama clearly provide the guidance and endstate for Afghanistan. I strongly feel the timeline is not realistic and was totally political. His reason for how Afghanistan was important to our National Security was unclear and this was the critical point that was needed for our Service men and women. Military-Civilian relations is a component that is absolutely critical to our great democracy, but the politics in Washington has rindered our civilian leadership as indecisive. I think there are other methods of achieve the desired endstate the President presented last night with our committing 30K additional soldiers. Where is the has NATO committed to the surge?? It is time for our partners to come to the table – many have reaped the benefits of globalization and need to provide more to this war on extremist. It is time to relook our NCS and focus our efforts on our economy – these wars are bleeding us dry. Let's "HOPE" 18 months is a deadline we can believe in??

    December 2, 2009 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dr. Sidney Okolo

    I listened to General Stanley McChrystal speak this morning and as much as I feel his compassion for his soldiers I was sadden that he is yet to learn the Culture of the people for whom he has pledged to protect. General McChrystal stated four elements of his strategy but unconsciously forgot to mention the hidden cost of the 30,000 U.S. troops that are bound to Afghanistan. In his four elements, he listed (1) Clarity, (2) Capability, (3) Commitment and (4) Confidence. As in every business strategy, there is a down side or losses, and so my question is: of the 30,000 U.S. troops deployed, how many were estimated to be killed or will not return back to United States alive?

    Afghanistan has one solution and that is to leave the country to the owners and work with other Islamic countries to resolve any conflicts there may be. The administration has not learned anything from the Russians. The country is bordered in the east by Pakistan and in the west by Iran and none of these countries seems to cooperate in the joint effort to stop the insurgency in Afghanistan rather they enhance and collaborate with the oppositions. They also feel threatened by U.S. presence in the neighboring country Afghanistan and because of that will like to see U.S. go away rather than cooperate in this joint effort since there is nothing [positive] there for them. Moreover, giving the timeline on how long the troops will stay in Afghanistan is not going to help rather it will fuel the other side to counter-strategize to win the war. One thing we seem to over look is the Islamic way of doing things. There is a holy war going on and how long are these soldiers going to protect the Afghanistan knowing full well that as soon as they leave the Taliban will take over the leadership of Afghanistan? It is either that the administration has not learn from the Russians or that it does not understand the Islamic culture or that it wants to play politics with this crisis.

    The longer the war in Afghanistan, the more financial burden on the U.S., and the more the U.S. economy suffers and unemployment gets worse. I look for another deployment in 18 months and this time for a different reason – how U.S has almost finished the job but just need few more Soldiers to do so.

    December 2, 2009 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Devan

    Instead of sending more troops why dont we ship over a giant warehouse and offer the Afghani people money for weapons they turn in. They seem pretty poor and would do anything for some goods. I think this approach may be the most fruitful , I can see afghani people stealing the weapons from the insurgents for money , food, or supplies. After they get accustomed to this reward system I can even see them starting to turn in insurgents for food or money. Anyway just a thought

    December 2, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JM

    It sounds like the our leader is going to reinact James Bond's the Living Daylights. Destroy their dope and win the war.

    December 2, 2009 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Scott in NH

    I'm sorry, I'm not buying the "secrets he can't divulge" line. Republicans used that same line when W went into Iraq, and there were no WMD, they had no part in 9/11, and there wasn't any secrets that W knew and wasn't telling us.

    My personal opinion is that arguing about whether there should be fewer troops or more troops, is like arguing about whether the lights should be brighter or dimmer in an e/r when a guy is having a heart attack. What he really needs is a defibrillator.

    If we want peace in Afghanistan we can't do it militarily. We do need more troops there for security (who will be viewed as an occupying force), but we also need to send in teachers, economists, architects, and start projects to hire the locals. Given the choice between watching his family starve, and getting $5 a day by joining the Taliban, many will join the Taliban. But if there is a choice to help build a school, build a clinic, build a highway, get water to a town, put in infrastructure for a factory, etc. more people will choose to help build their country.

    Obama is certainly smart enough to get this right. Let's hope he does!

    December 2, 2009 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Mel

    Obama has let his base down and has now assured that he will only be a 1 term president. I guess he thinks he doesn't owe his base anything...

    December 2, 2009 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  17. rmfenwick

    Everyone’s forgetting that the President is in on secrets that he simply cannot divulge to the American people. These background secrets must show there are valid, current threats to the United States. When a guy like Barrack Obama decides he has to escalate a war, I sit up and listen.

    December 2, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |