Support, skepticism color Maine reaction to Afghanistan policy

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEWS CENTER) -- The rollout of Pres. Donald Trump's new plan for the war in Afghanistan was met with a range of reactions from Maine's Congressional delegation.

Pres. Trump announced Monday night that more troops will be heading to Afghanistan to reverse gains by the Taliban. He said their mission will be to kill terrorists, not nation building.

Although Sen. Susan Collins and Pres. Trump are both Republicans, they have clashed on several issues. But Sen. Collins signaled in a statement that she is keeping an open mind about his new direction for Afghanistan:

The President has outlined an important change from an approach driven by arbitrary deadlines to a strategy based on conditions on the ground. He also made clear that the Afghan government needs to do its part in defending its people, ending havens for terrorists, and curtailing corruption.

Fellow Republican, Rep. Bruce Poliquin, is well-aware of the toll that war takes on those who serve in harm's way through his membership on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. His statement criticized previous troop withdrawals by Pres. Barack Obama for giving ISIS the chance to gather its strength:

Our Nation should remain forward-looking, address the serious security challenges we face, and stay on offense to defend our homeland, including putting pressure on partner actors in the region—specifically Pakistan—in combating our adversaries.

Sen. Angus King also maintains close military connections through his membership on the Senate Committee for Armed Services. Although independent, his decision to caucus with the Democrats keeps him in the committee's minority. He gave the President credit on certain points but also offered a word of caution:

While I agree with the President that any troop withdrawal be on a condition-based timeline, I believe it is equally as important, particularly to our U.S. service members currently in uniform and to the men and women who have sacrificed so much in this war over the past sixteen years, that we move forward with clear goals and great care to honor those sacrifices and support their mission to achieve a more stable region and a safer world.

Rep. Chellie Pingree is the Maine delegation's only Democrat, and her vocal opposition to many of the President's policies was on display once again in her statement on Afghanistan:

Congress must have a long overdue debate about the merits of this war and revoke the President’s blank check to declare it. Committing more troops and resources to this conflict makes our exit strategy even more uncertain.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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