May 25, 2018

Courtney Approves Iraq Withdrawal Plans by President

A message from Congressman Joe Courtney.

Rep. Courtney and Connecticut's Captain Frank R. DuVerger III in Afghanistan this month

Last week, President Obama announced that all U.S. military personnel will be out of Iraq by the end of the year. Many of our servicemen and women who have been away from their families for too many birthdays, milestones and celebrations during the war will be home this holiday season.

President Obama’s decision to protect U.S. military personnel from unacceptable exposure to prosecution in Iraqi courts and instead execute the final removal of American troops from Iraq is the right decision for both countries. This milestone was achieved through negotiations between our two countries that provided a clear path for the transition of responsibility to the Iraqi government. After eight long years, our brave volunteers have given that country the opportunity to create its own future with a sizable security force and the rudiments of democratic institutions.

With the Fifth Fleet nearby in Bahrain and U.S. bases in Kuwait and Qatar, our ability to respond to any threat to American national security in the region is more than adequate. As the President said, our two nations will continue to have a special relationship for many years to come, built on the sacrifice and effort of our troops. Now is the time to pay particular homage to all who served in Iraq and their families – the “one percent” who have stepped up and volunteered to wear our nation’s uniform through a difficult time in our history.

On the ground in Afghanistan

 Of course, even as American troops leave Iraq, our servicemen and women remain on the ground in Afghanistan. Earlier this month, as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I visited the country, where I was briefed on operations, met with Connecticut troops and top commanders, and learned more about the training of Afghan police and military personnel. Most importantly, General John Allen, commander of U.S./NATO troops, gave an encouraging brief on the planned draw down of U.S. troops: 10,000 this year and 23,000 by the fall of 2012. 48% of the Afghan nation will be under the control of the Afghanis in the near future, and the transition will continue until full control of Afghanistan’s future is in the hands of the Afghan people.

This was my third trip to Afghanistan since coming to Congress, and the progress was plain to see. More girls and young women are traveling to and from school, the education system has improved, and security forces are better trained and better equipped to keep the peace. While there are substantial hurdles left to clear, these are encouraging milestones that demonstrate movement in the right direction.

But to have gotten to this point – a place where real progress is clear – is a testament to the strength, bravery and resolve our military. As the war in Iraq winds down, their hard work has brought us to a place where, after 10 long years, Afghans are on the brink of reclaiming their country and their future.

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