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Legislative Update

Embassy of Afghanistan Legislative Update for September 2007

At this crucial moment in time, the Embassy of Afghanistan is actively engaging the U.S. Congress to provide the resources and commitment necessary to successfully rebuild Afghanistan. As part of these efforts, we will provide regular updates on legislative activity pertinent to Afghanistan and the region.

2008 Emergency War Supplemental Request

This month, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates requested an increase in funding from Congress for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The funding request is known as the FY08 Emergency War Supplemental. Since the Bush administration has been in power, war funding has been requested through the Emergency Supplemental scheme rather than routine Appropriations processes. This additional request brings war funding to nearly $190 billion, the largest single-year total for the wars thus far. The FY2008 Supplemental would boost war spending this year by nearly 15 percent. This will result in a total cost of more than $800 billion for both was since Sept. 11, 2001.

Representative Ros-Lehtinen Writes Letter to State Department Coordinator for Counternarcotics

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, ranking Republican member of the House Committee on International Relations, wrote a letter to Thomas Schweich, the State Department coordinator for counternarcotics and justice reform in Afghanistan stating her concern over the counter-narcotics trends in Afghanistan. This comes after the recent release of United Nations Office of Crimes and Drugs report on Afghanistan. Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen said Congress supports the enlistment of the Colombian National Police to help the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Afghanistan. "The CNP has years of tactical experience, operational planning and expertise on taking down these kingpins and their infrastructure, which the DEA did not have in such a harsh, dangerous and hostile security climate as in Afghanistan today," said Rep. Ros-Lehtinen.

Embassy Holds Briefing for Senate Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees on Counternarcotics in Afghanistan

On September 20th, Political Counselor Ashraf Haidari briefed Senate staff on the current state of counter-narcotics in Afghanistan. Haidari discussed the international counter-narcotics efforts in the context of the recent United Nations report on drug production in Afghanistan and H.E. President Karzai’s address at the Third Annual National Counternarcotics Conference. Mr. Haidari cited narcotics as a central problem in Afghanistan, destroying the health and fabric of Afghan society, undermining its nascent government institutions, strengthening the anti-government Taliban terrorists, and harming its national image in the international community. However, Haidari explained the main causes of increased drug production in Afghanistan from a broad perspective, firstly blaming the increasing global demand for illicit narcotics which he said could only be supplied in environments like that of Afghanistan. Haidari expressed the gratitude of the Afghan people to the US Congress for the support and commitment of the American people, and asked the Congress for long-term resources, patience, and legislating aid effectiveness measures to fight and eliminate drugs in Afghanistan.

House Armed Services Committee Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Hearing on Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT)

On September 5th, the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee received testimony on the role of the Department of Defense in provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was noted that PRT efforts involve more than just military actions by requiring integrated efforts and resources of other governmental departments and agencies besides the Department of Defense. However, the character of PRTs in Afghanistan has been different of that in Iraq. In Afghanistan, PRTs focus on classic development projects such as improving road networks, adding to the supply of electricity and water, building schools and clinics. The PRT's mission in Afghanistan is to extend the reach of the Afghan government by enabling security sector reform and reconstruction, and is part of a full spectrum operation that includes Marines and special forces combat to aiding midwife training. The PRT system is rapidly expanding, improving and becoming more effective to assist Afghanistan in both its security and reconstruction challenges.

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