Rep. Sherrill Remarks on Afghanistan at House Democrats Press Conference
Washington, DC –– Today, Representatives Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Jason Crow (CO-06), and Andy Kim (NJ-03) spoke on the situation in Afghanistan at the weekly House Democrats press conference hosted by Chair and Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus Hakeem Jeffries and Pete Aguilar.
A recording of the press conference can be found here. Rep. Sherrill’s remarks begin at 08:42.
Full transcript of Rep. Sherrill’s remarks here:
Thank you, Chairman, Vice Chairman, and other members of the National Security Task Force.
I want to thank my colleagues here this afternoon offering their perspective, some of it first hand, as you heard, from serving on the ground in Afghanistan.
The critical mission now is getting all American citizens and our Afghan allies in the SIV program and their families to safety, as well as additional vulnerable Afghans like women and girls who served in leadership roles. This is, of course, of particular concern to me because we, America, supported their efforts to access education and leadership roles throughout Afghanistan and they are now in danger as a result of taking on those roles.
So, our focus needs to be on executing this mission. Everything else is a distraction. And from the reports we’ve seen and heard, the several thousand soldiers and marines currently on the ground in Kabul are executing it well, with compassion, care, and efficiency and I want to commend our military members. Make no mistake, this evacuation is an extremely dangerous mission and is set to get more dangerous in the coming days.
In that vein, there has been significant progress. Approximately 21,600 people were evacuated from Kabul yesterday. In the last 10 days, our forces have evacuated roughly 58,700 people in ten days. That alone speaks to the dedication, professionalism, and sheer hard work of our military, our state department officials, and the IC.
So there are indications that we’re moving in the right direction –– as far as accomplishing our mission to get out Americans, our Allies, and vulnerable Afghans.
That said, I think it is critically important we ensure our military has the tools it needs to complete the mission. I do not believe that this can be accomplished by August 31st, and I have requested that the SECDEF and SECSTATE encourage the President in the strongest terms possible to reconsider that deadline.
I know everyone standing here has stories from their district much like the ones I’m hearing. Hundreds of requests for help. From the currently serving Air Force service member who has family still in Afghanistan to the pleas for help from representatives of FIRST -- an international robotics club -- for our aid in evacuating an Afghan girls robotics club.
And I want to take a moment to say a particular thanks to my friend, Jason Crow for his leadership. He has been leading the charge on this effort to ensure we stand by our allies from the start, and I’m proud to stand alongside him in this effort.
I also want to thank our troops who are executing this mission under unprecedented circumstances. You are doing a tough job, but I want you to know –– you are making us all proud.
I also want to thank our military personnel here at home, who are working hard to provide safe housing for our Afghan partners when they make it here to the U.S., including personnel from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in my home state of New Jersey. I want you to know we appreciate your efforts.
And I want to end by saying to my fellow veterans as a member of Congress from a district where many of my towns have steel beams from the towers to commemorate those who died in 9/11: your service in uniform, whether in Afghanistan or elsewhere around the globe, is a thing of honor, thing of distinction, and of pride. Nothing about the policy debates of the past, present, or future diminish in any way your service and the difference each and every one of you has made to the lives and safety of Americans here at home for the last 20 years.