05/04/2012 06:20 pm ET Updated Jul 04, 2012

Completing Our Work in Afghanistan

In 2010, when I first ran for Congress, I came to this forum to call on President Obama to lead us out of Afghanistan as responsibly and expeditiously as possible. And as a freshman member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, I have consistently urged the Administration to bring our brave troops home.

As the Congressman representing the First District of Rhode Island, this issue is especially important to me. Over the past two years, constituents have expressed tremendous frustration that we are devoting so many resources, so much energy, and the precious lives of our soldiers in Afghanistan with seemingly no end in sight. Why are we dedicating so much to nation-building half way around the world while so many middle class families here at home are struggling to find work and make ends meet? We need to do nation-building right here at home in America.

I have met with mothers and fathers who are anxious to find out when their children will be coming home, and, with great sadness, I have attended the funerals of Rhode Islanders who lost their lives in service to our country. We owe it to our brave men and women in uniform and their families, who have sacrificed so much, to finally end this war.

After more than a decade of unimaginable sacrifice by so many brave service men and women and their families, President Obama's announcement this week of the U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement is an important step toward the end of combat operations in Afghanistan and the transition of military and security operations to the Afghans by 2014 -- providing a roadmap for our country to complete its work in Afghanistan and help the Afghan Government achieve a "sustainable self-reliance" in the years ahead.

I, and many of my colleagues in Congress, would prefer an accelerated drawdown of U.S. combat troops -- one that allows for the safe, orderly, and expedited withdrawal of our combat forces. As the White House has affirmed in reference to the Partnership Agreement, the decisions regarding future troop levels and funding will need to be made in consultation with Congress. I look forward to working with the Administration as this framework evolves into concrete proposals for consideration and oversight by Congress.

More than a decade has passed since thousands of courageous members of our military began leaving their homes to fight a conflict halfway around the world. We now have a broad vision for turning security responsibilities over to the Afghan people and bringing our troops back home. As I have for nearly two years, I will continue to push the Administration to accomplish these goals as quickly and responsibly as possible.