A Tampa Bay congressman known for his staunch support of the military, the defense industry and the war in Afghanistan made a surprising about-face Tuesday: U.S Rep. C.W. Bill Young says the war is killing our best and brightest, and it's time to get out.
He says he is disturbed by the continued maiming and killing of American troops by improvised explosive devices, especially after ten years and billions of dollars have been spent on research to prevent those deaths and injuries.
"They've had a lot of money, why are our kids still getting blown up?" he said in an interview with FOX 13 on Tuesday.
Young said he is also disturbed by the killing of allied troops by presumed Afghanistan allies. There have been attacks on Americans from assailants dressed as Afghan security, and they have raised serious concerns about our mission in Afghanistan.
The mission has been to stabilize the country, and prevent it from becoming a terrorist haven (as it was before the September 11th attacks). The plan has been to push back the Taliban, work with the Afghan government, and transition control of the country to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.
But the attacks by what appear to be allies suggest the enemy may have infiltrated Afghan security. This raises serious questions about our ability to fully stabilize the government, and the level of trust we can place in Afghan security.
There have been three so-called insider attacks against U.S. and NATO troops over the past several days, including an attack at a checkpoint by Afghan police Sunday that killed four American soldiers.
More than 50 international service members have died at the hands of their Afghan allies or those who have infiltrated their ranks so far this year. At least 12 such attacks came in August alone, leaving 15 dead.
Congressman Young says he has worked to make his concerns about those attacks front and center over the past year.
"During my hearings all of this year, one of the main messages that I had was, what are you doing to stop these so-called allies in Afghanistan from murdering our soldiers when they sleep? Or in a training class?"
Young said he has been thinking about his position on the war for a long time, and his final decision came after the Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the same thing.
"That is what convinced me to go public with what I had been thinking anyway," Young said.
Young thinks many of his fellow congressmen agree the atrocities invite a departure. But he cautions that this may just be the beginning of the end.
"The protective force that would protect the troops as they withdrew would have to have rules of engagement that would allow them to use whatever force -- lethal included -- to protect the soldiers who were trying to get out of the country," he said.
Young said military leaders are still in shock that he has taken this new position, and that he wishes those discussions had started some time ago. He does not think the issue should wait for the November election.
Both President Obama and Mitt Romney support the general mission of stabilizing the country and withdrawing U.S. forces. But they differ in terms of approach. Romney has said if elected, he will review the strategy with military and adjust it as needed based on conditions on the ground.
President Obama has offered a timetable.
"We are bringing our troops home from Afghanistan, and I have a timetable. We will have them out of there by the end of 2014," said President Obama at a campaign rally earlier this month.
Governor Romney doesn't have a timetable, though.
"I think he's wrong. That's what at stake in this election," Romney said.
Many Republicans have criticized publicly revealing a timetable for withdrawal, and the size of the recent U.S. troop surge to advance the mission.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?