Washington, DC -- Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) welcomed the news of President Obama’stroop reductions in Afghanistan, but thinks the withdrawal should be accelerated.  Published reports state that 10,000 troops would be coming home by the end of 2011, and another 23,000 by the end of next summer.  The senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee encouraged the Administration to bring more troops home sooner rather than later. 

“It is time to close this chapter in our history.  The longer we stay in Afghanistan, the more we resemble an occupying force.  This is not what the American people had in mind when we first sent troops there 10 years ago.

“Our mission was to cripple al Qaeda, the perpetrators of the horrific mass murder of 3,000 of our citizens on 9-11. There has to be a better plan to continue to disrupt al Qaeda and keep our country safe, instead of maintaining tens of thousands of our troops in Afghanistan in perpetuity. 

“We cannot be bogged down in a war for decades.  We can continue to go after al Qaeda effectively without nation building in Afghanistan.  This war has already been extremely costly – in lives and dollars – and it is time to move on.  I applaud the President for starting the process, but I urge him to complete it more quickly.”