Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Vets groups back Afghanistan troop increase

Vets groups back Afghanistan troop increase: "Major veterans groups generally support President Barack Obama’s Tuesday night announcement that he intends to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. But they are not completely satisfied with some of the details.The nation’s largest veterans group, the American Legion, supports the troop increase but opposes setting a July 2011 termination date for the mission. ‘The American Legion is opposed to any exit strategy that takes place before the mission in Afghanistan is accomplished,’ said Clarence Hill, the Legion’s national commander. ‘To do otherwise would more correctly be called a ‘surrender strategy.’ ’While expressing support for adding 30,000 troops to the mission,

Hill also said the Legion would back an even bigger troop increase, such as the figure of 40,000 discussed earlier this year. He also called for an overall increase in the size of the U.S. military so there are more people to bear the burden of deployments.‘The best way to address the extremely high demands that we are placing on our military heroes is to increase our overall military troop levels,’ Hill said, noting the Legion advocated a bigger military long before the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which has taken no position specifically on the trop increase, is concerned about something that wasn’t mentioned at all in Obama’s Tuesday night address: taking care of veterans.‘The true cost of the war in Afghanistan, like all wars, must include a lifetime of support for veterans and their families,’ IAVA said in a statement. ‘As important as the number of planes, trucks and weapons allocated to Afghanistan are the number of surgeons, psychiatrists and case workers resourced at home.

The men and women who serve in Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of whom have already served multiple tours, cannot afford another Walter Reed-type situation.’AmVets, another major veterans group, was ambivalent in its assessment of the speech. ‘We cannot speculate on whether or not the president’s plan will succeed; we can only hope that his words are sincere, that our nation’s top military advisors have prudently considered the options for success, and that, as a nation, we will consider the needs of these additional 30,000 troops now called to serve long after they have returned from duty,’ said Ryan Gallucci, an AmVets spokesman.Gallucci said one thing is clear: As the risks of the Afghanistan mission increase, Congress needs to do better for troops, such as passing budgets on time.‘The need for additional troops only reinforces the need for timely VA and defense funding,’ he said. ‘Both the VA and defense budgets are now more than two months late, and our leaders in Congress must act quickly to ensure that we meet the needs of those brave enough to fight our nation’s wars.’RELATED READING:* Obama: 30,000 to Afghanistan by summer* Troops, families unsure about Afghan plan* Europe hails speech, but few pledge troops* Congress scrutinizes Obamas Afghanistan plan"

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

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