Reps. Welch and Lynch Call for Oversight of Trump Administration’s Strategies in Afghanistan and Iraq
WASHINGTON – As President Trump and his Administration reportedly weigh additional troop deployments and an expansion of the U.S. military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston) and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vermont) called on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to hold a bipartisan hearing to examine the long-term strategies of the Trump Administration in both countries. In a letter to Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, Congressman Lynch and Congressman Welch highlighted that the ongoing military and counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan merit robust oversight to determine the effectiveness of the strategies envisioned by President Trump and his Administration.
“As the Trump Administration weighs expanding military capabilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is vital that the Oversight Committee evaluate the soundness of these proposals. With American servicemen and women being sent on to the battlefield overseas, it is critical that the Trump Administration is held accountable for a long-term strategy. The lack of transparency from the Trump Administration regarding their overall plan hinders Congress’ ability to determine whether deploying thousands of American troops is consistent with the original Authorization for the Use of Military Force granted 14 years ago,” said Congressman Lynch, the lead Democrat on the National Security Subcommittee. “I think that initiating a major effort like this would require the Trump Administration to come back to Congress and explain its strategy and request a further authorization for that purpose consistent with the War Powers Act.”
“It has been fourteen years since Congress authorized the use of force in Iraq or Afghanistan. Much has changed during that time, and it is our duty as Members of Congress to ensure that the Trump Administration’s strategy in those countries continues to serve American interests. Particularly as President Trump considers expansion of our missions and military capabilities in both countries, it is imperative that Members on both sides of the aisle are able to understand and evaluate the strategy we are pursuing in Iraq and Afghanistan going forward,” said Congressman Welch.
In the wake of the series of deadly insurgent attacks in Afghanistan, including the recent devastating bombing in Kabul which resulted in over 90 deaths and more than 450 wounded, Congressman Lynch and Congressman Welch, both members of the Subcommittee on National Security, underscored the deteriorating security climate facing U.S.-coalition and Afghan Government operations to combat the Taliban. Following the recent appropriation of $4.3 billion to train and equip the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces, the Trump Administration is currently weighing an additional troop deployment to help “break the military deadlock” between the coalition and the Taliban-led insurgency.
Meanwhile, President Trump formally delegated his authority to determine troop levels in Iraq and Syria to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the Pentagon reportedly “has already been making quiet, incremental additions” to troop levels by “sending more advisers into Iraq to work with units closer to the fight in Mosul.” With discussion of an enduring troop presence in Iraq and nearly 15 years passing since the enactment of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq, Congressman Lynch and Congressman Welch noted the importance of an effective strategy from the Trump Administration, as well as strong congressional oversight, to wisely employ the use of American military personnel and enhance American national security interests.
The text of the letter is available here.