Inouye and Akaka support plan for Afghanistan


POSTED: Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Hawaii's two U.S. senators, Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, are in strong support of President Barack Obama's plan to add 30,000 troops to the Afghanistan war.

But Hawaii's two House members, Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono, questioned the plan.

And some Kaneohe Marines said it is their duty to carry out the mission.

Inouye said he was convinced that Obama “;had presented a good, workable strategy and that it should be supported by all members of Congress.”;

In October, Inouye traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he met with U.S. officials, generals and the presidents of both countries. At that time, Inouye said he supported the policies of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, who urged Obama to increase troops for the country.

Inouye said he is aware that it costs $1 billion for every 1,000 extra soldiers in Afghanistan.

Last night, Inouye, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, added that he is ready to start talking with his House and Senate colleagues about how to fund the extra troops.

“;We will provide our soldiers all of the resources necessary to complete their mission,”; Inouye said. “;At the same time, we must also be cognizant of the current economic condition and the costs that taxpayers will bear as a result of a major increase in war funding.”;

Hawaii's senior senator said he participated in a special White House briefing yesterday where Obama personally outlined his war strategy. The one-hour meeting also including Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Hirono, who recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, said she has concerns “;about what we can realistically achieve with 30,000 additional troops.”;

Hirono did not say she supported Obama's position, but noted that “;Congress will now have an opportunity to fully examine this strategy and its costs.”;

Also stopping short of an endorsement was Abercrombie, who has been a vocal critic of the conduct of the war in Iraq and the funding for the troop surge supported by former President George W. Bush.

“;We need to differentiate between supporting our troops and the policy and strategic implications,”; Abercrombie said. “;They will be dealt with in due time. What needs to be emphasized now is our complete support for the troops.”;

Akaka welcomed Obama's plan, praising it for confronting terrorism and protecting the nation.

“;His plan prioritizes hot spots and regions where al-Qaida and other terrorist groups are operating, expands our partnership with Pakistan on our shared goal of containing extremism, and calls for civilian assistance to stabilize the Afghan government,”; Akaka said.

;[Preview]    President announces new war plan

According to President Obama's latest speech, 30,000 more American troops will be sent into Afghanistan.

Watch ]


At the Aikahi Park Shopping Center yesterday, one Marine questioned the need to send more troops to Afghanistan.

“;There's no need to send troops to either of those countries (Iraq and Afghanistan),”; Cpl. Trey Gadbois said, “;especially the Iraq war. It's about oil.

“;They say we're looking for terrorists,”; he said. “;We're in a country where people are looking to slaughter each other. They've been doing it for millions of years.”;

Other Marines basically say they just intend to do their job.

“;They plan all the big stuff up top,”; Cpl. Tederick Zeigler said. “;He's the president and it's his call. Everyone signed up to do the job. You get called, you do it. That's why we elected him. If that's the call, we do it.”;

Lance Cpl. Lee Dennis said, “;That'd probably be good for Afghanistan. Hopefully the American public will support us.”;

He said he hoped the American public would also support the president's decision.

As for the Marines, he said, “;It's our job. We go when the president tells us to go.”;