- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2015

A senior Democrat on the Housed Armed Services Committee on Thursday unleashed a harsh attack on the 14-year-long Afghanistan war, calling it a “failure” as Islamic extremists have simply set up shop in a list of other places to conduct terrorism.

Rep. Loretta L. Sanchez of California, the second ranking committee Democrat, lectured Army Gen. John Campbell, the top commander in Afghanistan, and she ridiculed the basis for chairman Mac Thornberry, Texas Republican, defending the mission.

“It’s pretty much been a failure,” Mrs. Sanchez said as she peppered Gen. Campbell with questions within a tight, five-minute allotment.

She pointedly asked Gen. Campbell to provide the total number of Afghans trained by the U.S. for the country’s national security force.

When he provided the current strength of 352,000, the lawmaker interrupted.



“No. No. No,” she said. “I’m not asking what you are authorized as far as billets, I’m asking you how many people have we paid on to be on the payroll over these 14 years in the Afghan army?”

When he said he didn’t have that number and started to elaborate, Mrs. Sanchez said, “You can stop.”

“We have phantom people on the rosters,” she said. “We have 60-year-old men uneducated, signed up for these Afghan forces. We have tons of people we are paying that aren’t even showing up for work. This has been going on and on and on. “

Gen. Campbell said U.S taxpayers this year alone are pumping $4 billion into the country’s army, police and other security forces. As he started to explain that the cost is coming down, Mrs. Sanchez interrupted him again.

“General, I’ve heard this for 14 years,” she said “‘We’re going to get better. It’s going to be more efficient. Were’ getting there.’ The reality is that we’re not.”

“I heard the chairman. We’ve haven’t had 14 years of attacks coming out of Afghanistan,” she added, referring to Mr. Thornberry’s opening statement. “I’ll remind the chairman it’s that they went to Somalia. It’s that they went to Yemen. It’s that they went to Iraq. It’s that they went to Syria. It’s that they went to Libya. So, you know, we can say we concentrated our forces and our money in one place. But the reality is, and you and I both know this, they move.”

She then asked the four-star general, who took command one year ago, to explain the war strategy.

“The plan is to continue to build the Afghan security forces so they can protect the Afghan people, to have a stable government so they can provide for the Afghan people,” he said.

As he continued, Mrs. Sanchez interrupted. “Thank you. Thank you. So 4.1 billion this year. You don’t believe it’s a long-term viable strategy.”

The congresswoman said her son has just become an infantryman.

“I love our forces. I think they’re doing a good job,” she said. “I’m talking about what we did as policymakers. Did we ever find out how much money [former President Hamid] Karzai and his cronies stole and put in Swiss banks?”

Chairman Thornberry then broke in to say her five minutes was up and asked the general to provide the answer in writing.

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