News - October 5, 2021 - by Ray Hagar
Nevada's 4th U.S. House District Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, defended the Biden Administration's decision to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, even though the process was fraught with controversy.
"I want to start by commending President Biden for making the hard but necessary decision to end the 20-year war, the longest war the United States was involved in," Horsford said on Nevada Newsmakers. "It wasn't an easy decision for him. And no matter what, there were going to be difficult consequences to ending that war and getting people out."
Horsford, a member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, told host Sam Shad that efforts are still being made to help those who were left behind in the chaotic evacuation and could not get out by President Biden's order to leave on Aug. 31.
Since then, the U.S. has successfully completed five major evacuation flights from the Afghan capitol of Kabul, according to ABC News.
"My office continues actually to work with the State Department and the Defense Department to make sure we continue to help our Afghan allies and partners who are there," Horsford said. "Obviously, there is a sense of urgency. The Taliban has taken control and the risk, to particularly to women and girls, is especially troubling and something that our committee and this Congress takes seriously. I know that we will have other Congressional hearings.
"But the President did the right thing in ending this war and bringing our troops home and making sure that any future decision is not done or taken lightly because it is a very serious thing to ever put our young men and women into harm's way," Horsford said.
Biden is the fourth U.S. president to oversee America's war in Afghanistan and the one who got us out, Horsford said.
"There are four presidents, if you ever think about it," Horsford said. "President Bush went in (to Afghanistan first) and so each one of them made decisions, some good, some bad. Congress was a part of some of those decisions.
"And in the end, President Biden did the right thing by ending this war and by bringing our soldiers home," Horsford said. "Again, we remain vigilant in working with the State Department and Defense Department to make sure we continue to do our job. It has now moved from a military to humanitarian and state department processes, a diplomatic process, so we will continue with that approach."
The original mission in Afghanistan has been accomplished. Horsford said.
"When we think about about why we really went into Afghanistan, it was really about getting Osama Bin Laden and making sure those who attacked the United States on 9/11 paid a price and we prevented terrorism from taking place."
Terrorism against the United States has also been tapped down since U.S. troops first went to Afghanistan, Horsford said.
"I was watching a special with Ambassador (Susan) Rice and I agree with her to the extent of we are safer today than we were 20 years ago," Horsford said, referring to the current Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. "Things have changed. The Taliban may be organizing but it is not the same as it was 20 years ago.
President George W. Bush, who sent troops to the Middle East in response to the 9/11 attacks in 2003, had a united America get behind his decision, Horsford said. Now, some members of Congress are critical of Biden, even though the plan to get the troops out of Afghanistan was initiated by the Trump Administration.
"And I say this often: I may not agree with everything President Bush did or stood for but when we were attacked as a county, we came together," Horsford said. "Then-President Bush asked us, as a country, to get behind our service members and to protect our county's interest and we did that.
"Now, 20 years later, President Biden is ending the war," Horsford said. "And instead of coming together and supporting our troops and bringing unity, unfortunately in Congress, we've had more people casting aspersions against this President, even though the policy to end the war in Afghanistan and to even negotiate in some respects with the Taliban, you know, was started by the previous administration."
Military affairs are a key topic for Horsford since he has four U.S. military bases in his congressional district: Nellis Air Force Base, Creech Air Force Base, the Hawthorne Army Depot and the Nevada Test and Training Range.
"I advocate for the needs of those bases but I also have been successful in securing $20 million for a new dormitory at Nellis and $2 million for a child-care center that is to be built just off the base at Creech Air Force Base. We are addressing mental health issues on all of our bases, as well as sexual harassment and assault and addressing justice reform throughout the military."