WASHINGTON – The United States must learn from past missteps by establishing — and following — a clear, comprehensive strategy in Afghanistan, Senator Hassan stressed during a hearing examining America’s role in Afghanistan held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management. The hearing was led by Subcommittee Chairman Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ranking Member Maggie Hassan (D-NH).
Senator Hassan began her remarks by remembering Air Force Captain Ryan Phaneuf of Hudson, NH, who was killed two weeks ago in a plane crash in Afghanistan, as well as the two U.S. soldiers killed and six others wounded this past weekend in combat operations in eastern Afghanistan. “These losses serve as painful reminders of all the men and women in uniform in harm’s way in Afghanistan and certainly around the world,” Senator Hassan said.
Senator Hassan discussed her recent trip to Afghanistan, the brave work of U.S. service members and diplomatic personnel in the region, and the need for a comprehensive strategy from the Administration. “We need to establish an achievable strategy for Afghanistan. We must define our objectives and goals, and appropriately resource them. And we must hold the federal government accountable for its adherence to that strategy,” said Senator Hassan. She continued, “It won’t be easy. But as my dad, a World War II veteran, used to say, ‘We’re Americans. We do hard things.’ I hope that this hearing can be a step forward in this difficult but critically important work.”
Senator Hassan first addressed John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction who provides independent oversight and analysis of the federal government’s involvement in Afghanistan: “I worry that without a robust interagency approach from the Department of Defense, the State Department, and USAID, the U.S. will continue to spend taxpayer dollars without clear goals in mind. Has your office been able to determine a defined interagency strategy for the United States…?”
Sopko discussed the importance of lasting peace in the region and that the Administration needs to make clear how the different parts of its strategy come together in support of that goal.
Senator Hassan also discussed with Sopko and additional witnesses the importance of combating ISIS and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan, the risk the Taliban poses to Afghan women and girls in particular, and what goals the Administration should have for Afghanistan in order to keep the U.S. safe, secure, and free.