Senate’s Oldest Member Weighs-In On Afghan Troop Request

Oct 14, 2009 3:17pm

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer reports:

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., made a rare appearance on the Senate floor this afternoon to deliver a speech on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

Byrd, the Senate’s longest-serving and oldest member at age 91, called on the Administration to be skeptical of calls for more troops.

“Does it really, really take 100,000 U.S. troops to find Osama bin Laden?” he said.  “I suggest that we might better refocus our efforts on al Qaeda and reduce U.S. participation in nation building in Afghanistan.”

“Given the lack of popularity and integrity of the current Afghan government, what guarantee is there that additional Afghan troops and equipment will not produce an even larger and better-armed hostile force?” he asked. “There ain’t no guarantee.”

Byrd spoke also passionately about what he called the war’s “disproportionate” burden on the U.S.

“If more troops are required to support an international mission in Afghanistan,” he said, “then the international community should step up and provide the additional forces and funding.”

Byrd most recently took to Senate floor in early September, when he delivered a tribute to his late friend and colleague Sen. Edward Kennedy.  Byrd has been hospitalized in recent months and continues to suffer from ill health.

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