Defense and National Security
The military has been significantly strained in recent years, primarily because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congressman Petri believes it is imperative that our troops serving abroad have access to the supplies and equipment necessary to complete their mission as effectively and safely as possible. It is also clear that there are parts of the defense budget that are extremely wasteful and inefficient, particularly in the defense procurement process. Congress must continue to work to find ways to meet the needs of our troops while also cutting unnecessary projects and programs, freeing up resources to be used more effectively in other areas.
The war in Afghanistan is now in its tenth year. With a security situation that seems to be worsening and no comprehensive political outcome yet in sight, many observers view the war in Afghanistan as open-ended. Signs of deterioration have included an expanded area in which militants are operating, increasing numbers of civilian and military deaths, Afghan and international disillusionment with corruption in the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and the ease of infiltration of Taliban militants from safe havens in Pakistan. Rep. Petri visited Afghanistan in 2008 and has no illusions about the challenges we face. Though much of Al Qaeda has been forced out to Pakistan, we must recognize that the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is porous and arbitrary. He wants us to leave as soon as possible, but if we leave too soon, we open up opportunities for the Taliban and for Al Qaeda to come back in. In the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2012, Rep. Petri supported amendments that would either reduce or cut entirely funds for Afghanistan, Libya and Pakistan. He also supported amendments to reduce or eliminate the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund. While Wisconsin suffers from infrastructure budget cuts, Rep. Petri cannot justify spending hundreds of millions of dollars on infrastructure in Afghanistan.
Current unrest in Libya began in February following revolts in other Middle Eastern nations. Allied forces, including the U.S., have offered limited assistance to rebel forces in the form of unmanned predator drones and air strikes, but President Obama has not committed U.S. ground troops. The War Powers Resolution allows the president to commit involvement of the U.S. military if our national security is threatened, provided that he notify Congress within 48 hours and that the forces may remain there for no longer than 60 days with an additional 30 day withdrawal period. Congress has the authority to formally declare war, which has been done only five times in history, the last time following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Congressman Petri would like to see a peaceful resolution to this revolution with freedom, democracy and stability established in Libya for the first time in decades. However, he also has serious concerns about any potential commitment of American military to Libya, and believes the President has not followed the law as required under the War Powers Act. Rep. Petri voted in support of resolutions requiring the President to provide a justification of our involvement in the Libya conflict and also for a resolution.
2012 Department of Defense Authorization
On May 26, 2011, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. This bill authorizes appropriations for military construction and other the Department of the Defense programs. The legislation also reaffirms that the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda and the Taliban and strengthens policies and procedures used to prosecute and detain terrorists captured under this banner. The legislation also includes a number of provisions to identify and prepare for future threats. The bill does not expand the war on terrorism or authorize force against Libya or Iran. Congressman Petri supported this bill, because he feels it is important to continue to fund our military, even while he supports planning for a responsible and timely withdrawal from Afghanistan.