Kim, Back From Afghanistan and Turkey, Schedules Town Hall

Has Concerns About Withdrawal From Syria
By Rick Mellerup | Oct 09, 2019
File Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Washington, D,C, —

Congressman Andy Kim, whose 3rd Congressional District includes the western half of Stafford Township and all of Barnegat Township, had mainly been focused, like many Democrats, on health care while running for office in 2016.

But Kim has a background in national defense, having served as an adviser to Generals David Petraeus and John Allen in Afghanistan. And the first-term representative currently is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, where he serves as the vice chair of the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities. So it wasn’t surprising that his focus switched back to national defense this past week.

He and several other Congress members with military or intelligence backgrounds returned on Monday from a bipartisan fact-finding trip to Afghanistan and the Middle East. Kim immediately scheduled a town hall meeting for 2 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 12 in the Burlington County Library auditorium. It will be Kim’s 13th town hall since assuming office, fulfilling a campaign promise to hold at least one every month. He switches back and forth between Burlington and Ocean County locations.

“I got to see first-hand the bravery of our servicemen and women and American civilians during my visit to Afghanistan last week,” said Kim when announcing the town hall meeting. “They risk their lives to protect us, and we should never lose sight of the dangers they still face 18 years into the war. My visit provided critically important information that I want to share with our community as we, as a country, face decisions ahead on how to protect our national security and bring this war to an end.”

On Monday Kim and those members of that congressional trip signed a joint statement on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria.

“As members of the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Intelligence Committees, we returned this morning from a bipartisan congressional trip to Turkey, Afghanistan, and the Syria-Jordan border. During our trip, we met with foreign governmental leaders and our U.S. security, intelligence and diplomatic leadership to discuss our ongoing counterterrorism efforts, the threats posed by terrorist groups, including ISIS, and the impact of the region’s instability on our national security.

“Over and over again, we heard from U.S. and foreign leaders of the danger posed to the United States and our allies if Turkish forces moved into northern Syria, an area protected by our Kurdish allies, the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF).

“The SDS has been our primary ally on the ground in the fight against ISIS, fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. forces and now guarding 11,000 battle-hardened ISIS fighters. At the same time, Turkey views these Kurdish soldiers as a risk to their security priorities. The bottom line is that these Kurdish soldiers are the first line of defense in maintaining the gains we have made against ISIS; if Turkey attacks these Kurdish soldiers, there is a grave risk that the ISIS fighters they guard will escape and return to the battlefield.

“The Administration’s announcement regarding Syria is a misguided and catastrophic blow to our national security interests. Not only will this decision further destabilize the region, it will make it more difficult for the United States to recruit allies and partners to defeat terrorist groups like ISIS.

“We call on the Administration to work with the same U.S. leaders, diplomats, and intelligence officials we met with this past week to understand the grave consequences of this rash decision and to develop a long-term strategy for countering the terrorist threat in Syria.”

— Rick Mellerup

rickmellerup@thesandpaper.net

 

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