Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that he supports an agreement reached by President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai to allow U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan until possibly 2024.
In a statement, Graham said the deal “will be the end of the Taliban’s dream of retaking Afghanistan.” He also said that “with proper implementation,” the agreement “will secure our long-term strategic interests in Afghanistan.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) also expressed approval of the agreement, calling the president’s visit to Afghanistan a “good thing.”
“A lot of people both here and in Congress including Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Lieberman worked on this strategic partnership agreement and it’s important that we send a message to friends and enemies alike that the United States has a long-term commitment to Afghanistan,” McCain said during an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash.
Here’s Graham’s full statement:
“With the signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement we have reached a turning point in the Afghan war. With proper implementation, this agreement will be the end of the Taliban’s dream of retaking Afghanistan. The SPA shows a commitment to the development and security of Afghanistan over the next decade, an event which is in our own national security interests.
“Under this agreement we put Afghans in the lead and withdraw the vast majority of our forces in 2014 with their honor and security intact. This is a day I have been looking forward to for over two years. I am confident that with proper implementation, this will help secure our nation and allies from future attacks using Afghanistan as a staging area.
“The details of the security agreement have yet to be negotiated, but I envision a follow-on force made up of American military power, transport capability and Special Forces units. This post-2014 force would be substantially smaller than what we have today and would shift the tide in any future engagements involving Afghan security forces.
“The Agreement sends a signal we are not abandoning Afghanistan and that we will provide assistance to the Afghans as they take the lead engaging the enemy. It is an insurance policy against the reemergence of Taliban and al-Qaeda. The United States has fought too long and hard to fail long-term in Afghanistan.
“It is imperative General Allen have sufficient forces to continue the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda until 2014, when the Afghans take the lead. Any further reductions in force, beyond recovering the surge forces, puts the mission at risk and is militarily unwise. In the future, General Allen will recommend to the President and Congress the size and shape of the follow-on counterterrorism force.
“I want to congratulate President Obama and his team including Ambassador Grossman and national security advisors for entering into the SPA which with proper implementation will secure our long-term strategic interests in Afghanistan. Particular credit goes to General Allen and Ambassador Crocker for their time and effort in negotiating this historic agreement. They have done tremendous work which should be appreciated by all Americans.
“Finally, I want to thank Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his administration for their work in helping ensure Afghanistan never again is used as a training ground for terrorists to launch attacks against the United States. The signing of the SPA is a historic day for President Karzai and the people of Afghanistan. He should be congratulated for his wise decision to enter into this relationship.”