Hoyer Cautious on Afghanistan Troop Levels





House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) expressed caution Wednesday about potential plans to infuse Afghanistan with an additional 40,000 troops.


Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, favors sending more U.S. forces to the troubled country. As the White House mulls a decision on troop levels, McChrystal secured an ally in Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI). Inouye chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee and just returned from visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan.


In a statement, Inouye said he thought McChrystal’s assessment was “correct and is what is needed if we are to achieve security and stability in Afghanistan.”


But Hoyer doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Inouye.


“I’m not there yet,” Hoyer said. “Afghanistan has not been a successful venue for many great powers of the past.”


Hoyer added that he had “reservations” about dispatching more troops to Afghanistan. But conceded he hadn’t yet made up his mind. Hoyer said he will wait to see the strategy the Obama Administration plans to outline in the coming weeks. He said that he hoped “we can support the president.”


Liberal and conservative voices of the House Democratic Caucus have wedged leaders like Hoyer into a jam. Liberals are adamant about an extension of the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan, more than eight years after sending troops there following September 11. Meantime, conservative Democrats tend to favor the security argument and are worried about being portrayed as “weak on defense” in next year’s mid-term elections.


Hoyer admitted the Afghanistan decision is tough.




“No one wants to leave an Afghanistan that can be an ever greater threat to the United States,” Hoyer said.