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Kristen Daum, Published December 04 2009

Senators critique $30B Afghanistan war strategy

Members of Minnesota’s and North Dakota’s congressional delegations said they have reservations about President Obama’s strategy to add 30,000 troops to the Afghanistan war effort.

Obama outlined his plan Tuesday but drew concerns from members of Congress – including those from Minnesota and North Dakota – over the $30 billion price tag and the absence of concrete plans to withdraw from the war-torn country.

Senate Democrats Al Franken, Minn., and Byron Dorgan, N.D., said they feel “skeptical” about Obama’s latest plan.

“I need to be convinced … that the mission outlined is achievable … and that there is a sensible way to pay for the war,” Franken said in a statement.

Obama said troops would begin coming home in July 2011. But under heavy GOP questioning, Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged Wednesday that the additional troops could be there longer if conditions didn’t improve.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said in a statement that he wants the troop surge to help the Afghan people build up their own security forces, adding “Afghanistan cannot be an open-ended commitment.”

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar echoed his sentiment about the Afghan government’s sustainability.

Despite the concerns, leaders in Congress predict Obama will get the necessary approval to fund the additional troops.

North Dakota Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy, who visited Afghanistan in August, said he will support the funding request.

“I believe pulling out at this time would be disastrous to the stability of the region and to U.S. interests,” Pomeroy said in a statement.

Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson didn’t respond to a request for his position.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541