08/17/2010 02:46 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Calling for the Creation of Afghanistan-Pakistan Study Group

August 13, 2010

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
White House
Washington DC

Dear Mr. President,

As America heads inexorably towards its tenth year of war in Afghanistan, it is clear that the end of this, America's longest war, is nowhere in sight. Consequently, we write to echo calls from national security, military and development experts as well as our colleagues in Congress for the establishment of a bipartisan Afghanistan-Pakistan Study Group (APSG) to conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. policy in these countries.

Similar to the establishment of the Iraq Study Group in 2006, the formation of an APSG is not a partisan issue. Concerns and questions regarding the direction of U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan have been expressed by Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and an increasing majority of the American public.

In cooperation with your Administration, and through independent analysis guided by in-country assessments, an APSG can provide much-needed recommendations to focus the ongoing debate on U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As we continue to assess the benefits, costs, and affordability of our engagement in the region, this rational and independent examination is exactly what is needed. Further, we believe a critical component of this assessment should be the development of an alternative strategy for concluding the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

On June 23, 2010, in appointing General David Petraeus as Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, you emphasized the need for "unity of purpose" with regard to U.S. policy in Afghanistan. However, serious questions pertaining to our mission and objectives, metrics and feasibility for success, and the timeline for military engagement in the region threaten responsible oversight and execution of these policies. The formation of a bipartisan APSG will be critical in working toward agreement on the most responsible path forward for our nation.

We respectfully urge you to utilize your executive authority to establish an APSG as soon as possible. We believe Congress would be eager to support this vital initiative and further request that the Department of Defense and the Department of State promptly provide an estimate for the resources that would be required to convene such a body.

Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to hearing from you.


Congressional Co-signers: Rep. Barbara Lee (CA), Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI), Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey (CA), Rep. Michael M. Honda (CA), Rep. George Miller (CA), Rep. Steve Cohen (TN), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME), Rep. Jackie Speier (CA), Rep. James P. Moran (VA), Rep. Sam Farr (CA)