Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, like Marco Rubio, comes away from his trip to Afghanistan with a stronger commitment to victory in that war. “We’ve sacrificed so many lives and so many dollars in this effort and it’s such an important effort in terms of our national security, we have to see this thing through. And I honestly believe if we see this thing through, I believe we can do it,” Johnson told reporters today.
He said he's "far more hopeful" about the situation in Afghanistan following the trip than he was before. “In all honesty I’ve just come away far more hopeful," said Johnson. "I think we’ve made more progress than people are aware of in the States.”
Update: Kelly Ayotte cautioned against an "artificial timeline" in comments to New Hampshire press, the Nashua Telegraph reports:
“I would say an artificial timetable for withdrawal is not what we should have,” Ayotte told reporters during a conference call.
Ayotte met with four New Hampshire Marines in Afghanistan on Sunday and with the members of the 197th Fires Brigade from New Hampshire who are deployed in Kuwait on Friday night.
“We are making progress here; however, 2011 will be a crucial year in our efforts in Afghanistan as we transition from security held by our troops to security held by the Afghans,” Ayotte said.
The trip included briefings from the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, military and foreign security with the Pakistani government and Peter L. Corey, who commands the 197th Fires Brigade.
“I was incredibly impressed with the counterinsurgency strategy that he is leading,” Ayotte said of Petraeus.
“It is truly amazing what the American servicemen and women are doing in Afghanistan. The caliber, the talent, the dedication and the ability of our troops are incredibly impressive, and there is no question that they are doing a terrific job and making tremendous progress. The big challenge now, as we continue to clear the remaining difficult areas in Afghanistan, is making sure there is an actively trained Afghan army, police force and other governmental institutions to be able to sustain the progress we have made.”