Examining the Trump Administration’s Afghanistan Strategy

Date: 
Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - 10:00am
Location: 
2154 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515
“Examining the Trump Administration’s Afghanistan Strategy”

CHAIRMAN LYNCH'S OPENING STATEMENT

PURPOSE

The hearing will examine the challenges identified in a report issued by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) on high-risk U.S. reconstruction program areas in Afghanistan as the U.S. holds reconciliation negotiations.

In December 2019, the Washington Post released more than 2,000 pages of documents related to the war in Afghanistan, which it called the “Afghanistan Papers.”  These documents demonstrate how U.S. officials misled the American public for years about the war’s progress, and they include hundreds of pages of interviews conducted by SIGAR, as well as memos from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

BACKGROUND

  • Despite a bipartisan request for a briefing, which Administration officials never scheduled, and a subsequent invitation to testify before the Subcommittee nearly four weeks ago, the Department of State and the Department of Defense have refused to appear at Tuesday’s hearing.
  • This is the latest example of the Trump Administration’s obstruction of Congress and lack of transparency with the American people about critical national security matters.
  • After 18 years, the war in Afghanistan is now one of the longest in U.S. history, and although the U.S. maintains about 12,000 combat troops in Afghanistan, the conflict appears to be at a stalemate.
  • To date, about 2,400 U.S. servicemembers have been killed in Afghanistan, and more than 20,000 have been injured.  In 2019, 20 U.S. servicemembers died in combat in Afghanistan, the highest number since 2014.  On January 11, 2020, two U.S. servicemembers were killed when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device.
  • The Trump Administration’s stated objectives in Afghanistan are “to achieve a peace agreement that ensures Afghan soil is never used again by terrorists against the United States, its allies, or any country and allows American troops to return home.”
  • However, a hurried, large-scale withdrawal of U.S. forces could undermine nearly two-decades of coalition efforts in Afghanistan to promote security and stability, fight corruption, advance women’s rights and economic growth, and reduce the illicit narcotics trade.

WITNESSES

The Honorable John F. Sopko
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

The Honorable Mark T. Esper or designee (refused to attend)
Secretary
U.S. Department of Defense

The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo or designee (refused to attend)
Secretary
U.S. Department of State

116th Congress