Tomorrow morning — Thursday, November 5 — Afghanistan and Iraq veterans from across the country will be in Washington, D.C. to petition their members of Congress and the White House to fully support mission success in Afghanistan. Our message is simple: Provide our commander in Afghanistan, General Stan McChrystal, and his troops, the manpower, resources, and support they need to defeat America’s enemies.
The Afghanistan mission is tough and complicated, and will require continued American sacrifice for years. But as we learned in Iraq from General David Petraeus, “hard is not hopeless;” and with the right combination of strategy, manpower, and leadership, America can turn the tide in Afghanistan and create the conditions to defeat our enemies, induce Afghan solutions, and bring our warriors home with honor.
Thus far, President Obama has been very strong on Afghanistan — sending additional troops, shifting the strategy, and appointing a new commander. Vets for Freedom remains very hopeful that the president will also make the right decision regarding General McChrystal’s request for additional troops. And when he does, we stand ready to support the president 100 percent.
On Capitol Hill, we have over 75 face-to-face meetings scheduled, focusing our efforts primarily on members of Congress who are skeptical about adding troops to Afghanistan. We plan to make the case for more troops in meetings with Senator John Kerry, Harry Reid, Jim Webb, Mark Pryor, Mark Warner, amongst many others. We are very appreciative they are all taking the time to meet with veterans from their home state.
And while I’m not an Afghanistan veteran, I’ll be proud to stand alongside scores of them tomorrow. They are the best, brightest, and bravest our nation has to offer. Among them, to name only a few, will be:
Thomas Cotton — he just returned from Afghanistan, where he directed counterinsurgency operations for a Provincial Reconstruction Team. Before that volunteer assignment, Tom led an infantry platoon in Baghdad, Iraq during the Surge with the 101st Airborne Division. Tom is still in the National Guard.
Vincent Heintz — he also just returned from Afghanistan, where he led an Afghan Police Mentoring Team in Konduz Province. Vince also led an infantry company in Iraq in 2004, and commanded troops on Ground Zero on 9/11. You may have seen his WSJ op-ed last month. Vincent is still in the National Guard.
Daniel Bell — Daniel deployed twice to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq with U.S. Army Special Forces, serving as a special operations medic directly under the command of General McChrystal.
Rose López Keravuori — Rose graduated from West Point, and has served 12 years (6 on active duty) in the Army as a Military Intelligence officer, including two years in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rose is still in the Reserves, and works in counterterrorism.
Who better to inform the opinions of our nation’s leaders? These veterans, and many more just like them, will flood the halls of Congress; armed with first-hand knowledge and the passion to ensure their comrades in Afghanistan are supported.
If you recall, Vets for Freedom did the same thing in 2007 and 2008 in support of the Iraq surge, with great impact. For updates on this trip, you can follow our efforts at: http://twitter.com/VetsForFreedom or on our website at: www.VetsforFreedom.org
Also, Vets for Freedom will be holding a press conference tomorrow morning at 9:15am at 217 Cannon House Office Building with Congressmen Marsha Blackburn (TN-7) and Duncan Hunter (CA-52). The press conference will occur after the first meeting of the Afghanistan Strategic Forum Caucus, which will ensure a forum where members of Congress can maintain a close connection to troops, experts, and policymakers.
Any and all press are welcome, and you can request more information at [email protected]