CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Before Thanksgiving, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., traveled to the Middle East to receive an update about combat efforts in the region.
Capito, along with Iowa Republican Joni Ernst and New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, stopped in Kuwait and Afghanistan, speaking to deployed service members as well as officials regarding challenges.
“The security situation there is still not good,” she said recently on MetroNews “Talkline.”
“The Taliban and ISIS are very active, but our troops are trying to train and are training the Afghan army and the police force there so they can gain control of their own country.”
The Washington Post reported in October there are 13,000 American troops in Afghanistan, which is a decrease from 15,000 troops in 2018. President Donald Trump has promised to bring an end to “endless wars,” and the administration is prepared to reduce the number of soldiers to 8,600 if it reaches a deal with the Taliban.
Capito said if too many or all troops leave, “pockets of terror” will remain operational without any significant challenge.
“That begins to impact and will impact our homeland security,” she said. “That’s sort of mission one: to keep our homeland safe, we need to have a presence in Afghanistan. I think planning for a drawdown of less troops and less money is important, but I do believe we still have to have a presence there to keep manning up their Air Force, their commandos (and) their special forces to be able to take control of their own country.”
Capito said American and NATO generals would be comfortable with between 8,000 and 8,600 troops.
American troops have been in Afghanistan since October 2001. Capito said Americans are fatigued with overseas conflicts, which she also feels at times.
“If we leave that uncovered and leave it to devolve into its own chaos, we endanger ourselves. I’m really focused on keeping our homeland safe, and I do believe that is number one,” she said. “Number one is you have to have the ability to help these countries that can’t keep terrorists out and their violence is high.”
Capito noted on “Talkline” while overseas, she met members of the 863rd Military Police Unit of the West Virginia Army National Guard; the unit is based out of Glen Jean.