Nothing is more important than the responsibility our nation's leaders have to protect the national security of the American people. While it is vital that we maintain a strong defense, we must also recognize when it is time to bring our men and women home to safety.
For more than a decade, our troops have served in Iraq and continue to serve in Afghanistan, our longest conflict in U.S. history. The death of Osama bin Laden, who had declared war on America and was directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans, was a major accomplishment for our armed forces and intelligence services. And because of this, I believe President Obama's announced strategy for troop withdrawal is a step in the right direction.
It is time to take the training wheels off in Afghanistan. I am hopeful that the President's strategy will both safely allow Afghanistan to take responsibility for their security, economic reconstruction and self-governance -- and get our troops home safe and sound.
As we begin to draw down forces in Afghanistan, Syria's civil war has escalated. In April 2013, reports surfaced that Assad's forces employed the use of chemical weapons, though the Syrian government accused rebels of carrying out the attack. It was reported that more than 1,000 Syrian people were killed by a Sarin gas attack. I am deeply concerned, not only about the use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians, but also about what potential United States military operations and the ensuing aftermath could look like in the region. No one wants us involved in another prolonged military engagement in the Middle East after a decade of two wars that took a terrible toll on our troops and treasure.
You can be sure that I am also closely monitoring the developments in Iraq as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continues to advance militants and cause violence. President Obama has announced up to 300 military advisers would be sent to support Iraq against ISIS. We should continue to avoid sending combat troops back into Iraq.
It is also my promise to ensure that no veteran is left behind. Our armed forces serve with honor and it is our duty to provide the best care we can offer when they come home.
Full Funding for Our Troops
Having traveled around western and central Wisconsin and visited Iraq four times, I have heard from a number of the Wisconsinites currently and formerly serving in our nation's armed forces. It has become very clear that in these challenging economic times we must do more to provide for the basic needs of our troops and veterans. I am proud that in recent years, Congress has acted to support our current and former service members by creating the New GI Bill, making historic investments to strengthen veterans' health care, and improving care for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Our troops in the field have been doing a terrific job under difficult and dangerous conditions. As long as our troops are in harm's way, it's important that they have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.