CINCINNATI – On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) released the following statement regarding the situation in Afghanistan:
“As the United States ends its evacuation operation in Afghanistan, I join with a grateful nation in thanking every member of our military and the diplomatic corps who served and honor those who made sacrifices to protect all of us. We remember those families who live every day with the loss of a loved one, and we remember all those who were injured.
“On a fact-funding trip to Afghanistan several years ago, soldiers at a forward operating base gave me a badly burned compass of one of their comrades who had been killed that week by a roadside bomb. I keep that charred compass on my desk to remind me, my staff and my visitors to my office of the sacrifices our troops have made.
“Brave Americans fought terrorists abroad so we did not have to fight them at home and we are forever grateful.
“During the evacuation operation, we lost 13 American service members to enemy action, and many others suffered grievous wounds. These men and women selflessly and bravely went into harm’s way to save others. They knew the risks but went out on the wall anyway because it was their mission. One of these heroes was Max Soviak, a Navy Corpsman from Ohio. Jane and I grieve with their families for their loss. The memory of these heroes must never be forgotten.
“Despite the fact that we no longer have troops in Afghanistan, the mission is not over. There are still American citizens and Afghan allies in the country. We have an ongoing responsibility to help every U.S. citizen and Afghan ally who helped the United States to escape the tyranny of the Taliban. I will continue to stand with the many Ohio veterans who have contacted me to insist the United States honor its commitment to those with whom they served. I urge the Biden administration to continue to help Americans and Afghan allies.
“We have not had a mass casualty terrorist attack on American soil in 20 years in large part because our armed forces entered Afghanistan to fight Al Qaeda terrorists who were being harbored by the Taliban. Both Republican and Democrat administrations realized the value of a stable Afghanistan and committed to support the goal of the Afghan people to live free of oppression and tyranny, as well as protect the United States and our allies from the threat of international terrorism.
“As I have made clear on numerous occasions, I did not agree with how President Biden chose to withdraw forces from Afghanistan because I believe that any withdrawal should have been based on the conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timeline. However, now that all of our troops are out of the country and with the Taliban again in charge, the Biden administration must come forward with a counter terrorism plan that takes these new realities into account. The terrorist enemies of the United States and our allies aren’t going away simply because we have left Afghanistan. The Biden administration must explain how it will keep a watchful eye on Afghanistan to keep America safe.
“Finally, I look forward to hearing the administration’s plan for vetting the Afghan refugees who are arriving on our shores so we can come together as a nation to welcome people who have been screened and who have stood with us in war-torn Afghanistan.”