Sen. Levin’s Letter Concerning Congressional Testimony from the U.S. Military Commanders Responsible for Afghanistan

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

WASHINGTON — Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent the following letter today to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ranking member of the committee, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in response to their request for congressional testimony from senior military commanders responsible for Afghanistan.

Dear John, Joe and Lindsey:

Thank you for your letter of September 18. I agree with you concerning the importance of succeeding in Afghanistan and the need for Congress and the American people to understand how the future of Afghanistan is linked to our own safety here at home.

At the present time, while General McChrystal has submitted his assessment of the situation on the ground and his recommendations concerning the strategy for Afghanistan up through the chain of command, he has not yet submitted his recommendation as to the resources that he believes would be needed to implement the strategy. I also understand that discussions on strategy are ongoing.

Under these circumstances I believe that it is premature to seek the military commanders’ testimony on their resource recommendations to implement a strategy before the President’s senior advisers, including Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates, have had an opportunity to provide their advice to the President relative to those recommendations. That was how the Committee handled General Petraeus’ testimony in support of the 2007 surge of U.S. forces in Iraq. President Bush announced the surge on January 10, 2007, Secretary Gates and General Pace testified before the Committee on January 12, and General Petreaus testified before the Committee on January 23.

Sincerely,

Carl Levin Chairman