“Hello, this is Congressman Mike Castle of Delaware.
“As 30,000 additional American service-members continue to move into Afghanistan under the counterinsurgency strategy outlined by General McChrystal, Americans are reminded about our important role in this vulnerable region.
“The additional troops will bring our military presence there to 100,000 Americans and 47,000 NATO partners. While this increase is essential to our efforts in the region, also key is ensuring that our men and women in the field have the equipment and support they need to succeed.
“Last week I traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan with a Congressional Delegation to see firsthand the progress we have made in reversing the momentum of the Taliban and the many remaining challenges we face.
“There is a strong professionalism and commitment demonstrated by our men and women in uniform, as well as by those in our civilian institutions who serve on the front lines.
“Particularly since the surge in Afghanistan began, we have seen progress toward helping establish a country that can govern itself, defend its borders, and be an important ally in fighting terrorism.
“However, we need to remain focused on our goals and maintain a sense of realism about what is achievable for this region.
“Creating stability in Afghanistan requires a multi-tiered approach from the U.S. and our allies in an effort to train Afghan security forces, target insurgency, secure population centers, and strengthen Afghan and Pakistani governments.
“Only with significant growth in these key areas, can we expect to prevent this region from serving as a safe-haven for radical Islamic terrorists once again.
“For this strategy to succeed it is essential that Afghan security forces—Army and police—must grow in numbers and effectiveness which serve to inspire better local governance.
“In an effort to improve the training of local military, coalition and Afghan forces are living and working together in many cases and have established a united presence amongst the local populations.
“The focus on agriculture will hopefully make progress in reducing the rampant opium and narcotics trade in this area. While President Karzai has pledged to help eradicate poppy crops, there must be development in Afghanistan of crops and methods other than poppies to sustain the people of this country.
“In southern Afghanistan, the U.S. Department of State and Agriculture are working to help this former agricultural hub of Afghanistan regain its potential.
“Understanding the realities on the ground in Afghanistan directly from our top military commanders is essential. Republicans are pleased with the decision by Secretary Gates to stay on as head of the Pentagon, and, we urge the President to follow his advice of making strategic decisions based on conditions on the ground.
“Secretary Gates has worked to reaffirm our short and long-term goals to our troops and continues to commend their sacrifice. This outreach is very important and we thank him.
“We now know that the U.S. military faces fewer threats involving conventional forces than during the Cold War. Instead, terrorist networks deploy unconventional uses of force that remain invisible until their sudden attack.
“To circumvent and pre-empt this threat, we rely heavily on our intelligence gathering systems and professionals – at home and abroad.
“The recent suicide attack on the CIA in Khost reminded us of the determination of terrorists. The arrest of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab makes clear there is much to be reviewed in the way that intelligence is shared, collected, analyzed, and in our methods of approach.
“At home, a systemic failure within our intelligence analysis and airport security must be corrected to defeat the ever-changing strategy of those who seek to harm Americans.
“We cannot rest on one pattern or approach to tracking or analyzing threats to our national security.
“The Administration should work with Congressional Republicans to review and update our current counterterrorism systems to meet the emerging and multiplying threats from Al-Qaeda.
“Progress in Afghanistan is also very dependent on having a strong, credible Afghan government and coordination among the international community.
“It also falls on the international community to practice vigilance in monitoring areas which appeal to terrorists as we have seen recently in Yemen.
“In meeting with President Karzai our delegation made clear that the commitment of the United States must be met with by equal determination of the Afghan government.
“The Afghan government needs to resolve the date for Parliamentary elections. This is important to the overall success of our strategy, the legitimacy of the government, and our military commanders.
“We can continue to reverse the momentum of the Taliban, help build indigenous security forces just as we did in Iraq, and help the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan with development assistance, but, the governments in both countries must be willing to take on extremists, corruption, and develop confidence in the institutions of civilian government.
“There is much to be proud of on the ground in Afghanistan. We should all be very thankful for the men and women who are making such sacrifice away from their own families every day.
“Thank you for listening.”