U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) today rejected a resolution by Rep. Dennis Kucinich that would direct the President to remove U.S. from Afghanistan within 30 days. This afternoon on the floor of the House, Congressman Dent expressed his opposition to the measure (H.Con.Res. 248) and reiterated his support for the ongoing mission to eliminate terrorist strongholds in Afghanistan.

The Kucinich resolution allows an exemption of the 30 day timeline if the President determines it unsafe to remove our forces during that specified period, however, then troops would have to be withdrawn no later than Dec. 31, 2010.

Congressman Dent’s remarks on the floor:

“There is clear and present danger in removing our men and women from the field while they are engaged in the first major assault of President Obama’s re-affirmed counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan. But here’s another danger: Damaging the morale of the troops who sacrifice their safety and wellbeing to fight to protect our homeland and our freedoms by not providing them with the support and the resources they need to complete their mission.”

“This is a dangerous business, moving troops out of a country. I sat with Secretary Gates on more than one occasion over the years talking about withdrawing troops, in this case from Iraq, and how complex a situation this is and how dangerous it is and the logistical realities of moving this many people safely.

“But don't take my word for it. I think we should listen to the words of the Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, who on December 1 in his address to the nation, said, ‘I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here we were attacked on 9/11 and it's from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak . . . This is no idle danger, no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone we apprehended those within our borders who were sent here to commit new acts of terror and this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards and al Qaeda can operate with impunity. We must keep pressure on al Qaeda.’ Again, that was President Obama.

“Furthermore, nearly one year ago, the President stated the following: ‘If the Afghan government falls to the Taliban or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged that country will be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.’ Additionally, Secretary Gates, our very fine Secretary of Defense, said on February 5 of this year, ‘This is a critical moment in Afghanistan.’

“I'm confident we can achieve our objectives if we continue to muster the resolve to continue this mission. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on September 23 said, ‘Some people say al Qaeda is no longer Afghanistan. If Afghanistan were taken over by the Taliban, I can't tell you how fast al Qaeda would be back in Afghanistan.’

“I also want to mention what General (David) Petraeus has said. . . “It was in Kandahar that 9/11 attacks were planned, it is important to recall the seriousness of the mission and why it is that we are in Afghanistan in the first place and why we are still there after years of hard work and sacrifices have passed.’ Again, I strongly urge we defeat this resolution. We owe it to our troops who are watching this debate as we speak.”

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