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Senator Coons on situation in Afghanistan

August 19, 2021

WILMINGTON, Del. – Today, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, released a video message to Delawareans about the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.

Message to Delawareans on Situation in Afghanistan – August 19, 2021 

With the unfolding situation in Afghanistan, many of you have reached out to me and my office, and I want to speak to you as my constituents, including especially our veterans, members of our military, Gold Star families, and those with friends and family in Afghanistan currently in harm’s way.

Like all of you, I’m deeply concerned that we get every American out safely, as well as ensuring the evacuation of as many of our Afghan partners as possible — particularly military translators, journalists, advocates for democracy and the rights of women and girls, and others at risk for working alongside us.

To the hundreds of thousands of American veterans, active service members, and NATO allies, those who bravely served in Afghanistan alongside our Afghan partners, including the aircrews from Dover Air Force Base currently helping with evacuations, you have my gratitude.

As we heard directly from President Biden this week, when he first came into office, he engaged in a thorough and deliberate review of the current facts on the ground in Afghanistan and the global security threats facing our country. President Biden faced a choice between continuing into a third decade of conflict, which would have meant sending thousands of additional American troops back into Afghanistan and deepening our military commitment with no end in sight and a likely renewal of casualties. Or he could continue on the path chosen by the previous administration and end our military presence. He decided that escalating our military engagement was not the right choice for the American people, and he ordered that we complete our withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In the weeks ahead, there will be plenty of time for pointing fingers, for doing a thorough after-action review about the strikingly rapid fall of the Afghan military and government, the planning and coordination for an evacuation, and the alarming crush of Afghans and Americans now urgently seeking to leave Kabul.

But in the days ahead, we first need to urgently focus our efforts on pulling together and saving as many lives as we can by securing safe passage for Americans and our Afghan partners. I’m committed to ensuring our military and State Department have the resources and support they need for this urgent and vital effort.

If you have information, questions, or concerns about evacuating a friend, loved one, or someone at risk in Afghanistan, please contact my Wilmington office at (302) 573-6345, provide as much detailed information as you can, and we will get back to you and pass this information forward to the State Department clearinghouse for Afghanistan.

This war in Afghanistan was not a wasted effort, as some have been saying. Over 20 years, our brave troops and our allied partners decimated al Qaeda and the Afghan branch of the Islamic State.

They gave us breathing room to strengthen our own defenses here at home. And over the last two decades, we’ve built a global network of partners to continue fighting terrorism and promote our security, and we have improved the lives of the Afghan people.

Going forward, it’s critical we maintain effective counterterrorism capabilities to limit risks to our homeland, similar to our operations in Libya and Yemen, where we don’t have any ongoing U.S. troop presence on the ground. That’s what we need to do in Afghanistan, and we need to continue working with our regional and global security partners.

For 20 years, Americans killed in action while serving in Afghanistan have first returned to the United States through Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware. I’ve stood there on the flight line alongside many American families, including Delaware families, as they welcome home and honor their fallen heroes.

We owe it to them to do what we can in the coming days to safely evacuate as many Americans and Afghan partners as possible, and in so doing, to honor the service and sacrifice of those Americans who have served and fallen in Afghanistan, which has meant so much to our nation.

Thank you.