Pennsylvania Congressman Mark Critz arrived home from a trip to Afghanistan last week. He, along with five other House Armed Services Committee members visited Kabul, Gardez and Kandahar to examine Afghanistan’s economic and security progress.
The Johnstown Congressman says going into the trip, he felt a great deal of pessimism. However, after seeing how optimistic the Afghans are, he left feeling positive that progress has been made.
He says most Afghans only know poverty, instability and lack of freedom, so it is hard for them to see a better future. “We’re doing everything possible to turn Afghanistan, and allow the Afghan citizens to run their country and to have a brighter future…I just don’t know how you describe success.”
Critz says at this point it would be difficult to put a timeline on the war. He says most Afghans can see the goal, but they can’t see the path to get there. “We have to give them a chance." He thinks by the end of this year, they’ll have an idea of how well they’re succeeding.
Noting the murders of 8 humanitarian aid workers, including 6 Americans, Critz says it's still a dangerous country. He says the number of car bombs in Afghanistan has increased, which is a direct result of the effort that the U.S. and international community is putting forth now. “The push is very strong in the Helmand Province and you’re going to see it get worse before it gets better.”
He says getting Afghans completely on their feet could be a 5, 10 or even 20 year process, but as long as progress is being made the U.S. will continue to help.
Critz says no one can say how much this will cost, and America should just analyze it as it goes. He says by the end of this year, the Provisional Reconstruction Team should be able to make a very strong analysis on the way things will move forward, specifically regarding troops in Afghanistan. “At that point we take it to the American people and say ‘look, this is what our experts in the field are saying, what is your advice and what do you think we should do?’”