Legion to White House: We must not lose Afghanistan

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 24, 2009) – The head of the nation’s largest veterans organization is urging President Obama to give commanders the troops that they need to succeed in Afghanistan.

“According to The Washington Post, General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO Commander, is warning us that without more forces within the next year, the mission in Afghanistan ‘will likely result in failure.’ Considering that Afghanistan was the breeding ground for the 9/11 attacks, we cannot allow that to happen,” said American Legion National Commander Clarence E. Hill. “We have seen a successful troop surge and counterinsurgency strategy work in Iraq. We owe it to our men and women who are serving in Afghanistan to do the same there. We must give them the tools they need to succeed.”

Hill said he is troubled that civilian officials in Washington appear reluctant to grant McChrystal’s request, which many believe could be as high as 40,000 additional troops. Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Defense Secretary Robert Gates will not consider escalating the military mission in Afghanistan until President Obama and his national security team “are ready to consider it.”

“More than 800 brave American heroes have died in Afghanistan so far,” Hill said. “They died replacing and then protecting us from an evil regime that harbored terrorists. We must not try to ‘fight a war on the cheap’ and let our losses be for naught. General David Petraeus and Admiral Mike Mullen both support General McChrystal’s  report.”

Hill’s position is also shared by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who said in Fortune Magazine, “It’s that simple. If you want another terrorist attack in the U.S., abandon Afghanistan.”

Last month, Adm. Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at The American Legion National Convention that the war cannot be won from the Pentagon.

“You have to be there,” he said. “You have to see and hear firsthand what the issues are. You can’t hope to see problems through someone else’s eyes if you aren’t looking into those eyes.”

With a current membership of 2.5-million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.

Media contacts:  Craig Roberts (202) 263-2982; Joe March or John Raughter (317) 630-1253.  A high resolution photo of National Commander Hill is available at www.legion.org.


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