Their view: Don’t forget U.S. troops still in Afghanistan

Don’t forget U.S. troops still in Afghanistan

Retired Army Capt. George Autobee, former director of Government Affairs for the of the American GI Forum, urges Congress not to forget about U.S. troops in Afghanistan:

The war in Afghanistan barely registered as a blip on Election Day polls; only 10 percent of voters rated the war in Afghanistan as the most important issue, buried under jobs, the economy, and health care.

Yet, the war goes on, with relentlessly fatal consequences.

Since 2001, more than 1,300 men and women have lost their lives in the conflict; more than 9,000 have been wounded. On Election Day, no one asked the 98,000 troops in Afghanistan, but I guarantee that the war there is their number one issue, as it is for their families back home.

What’s more troubling is that, as public interest in the war wanes, so does funding for our troops. The Department of Defense is under incredible pressure to cut the military budget, not only eliminating inefficiencies but also canceling entire programs. DoD eliminated or scaled back 20 programs last year, including critical modernization programs like the Army’s Future Combat Systems. Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says more programs will be cut this year.

It’s one thing for experienced Pentagon planners to pare down the military’s budget, but when Congress goes further by cutting essential projects down to the bone, it hurts our men and women in uniform.

A few short years ago, such cuts for needed troop equipment would have been unthinkable. Fast-forward through the pop of the housing bubble, the financial crisis, the ensuing recession and “jobless” recovery: In the absence of clear success or failure in Afghanistan, many people have simply lost interest.

However, our duty to U.S. troops in Afghanistan won’t evaporate just because the faltering economy demands our attention.