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Legion supports troop surge, opposes timelines

The American Legion is praising President Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, but is troubled by some reports that the administration might set artificial timelines for withdrawal.

"The American Legion is opposed to any exit strategy that takes place before the mission in Afghanistan is accomplished," National Commander Clarence Hill said. "To do otherwise would more correctly be called a ‘surrender strategy' to which the Legion would be opposed."

Hill said the 30,000 additional troops that President Obama reportedly will send to Afghanistan are a step in the right direction. "As I said back in September, I would have liked for him to send the 40,000 that Gen. Stanley McChrystal requested, but at least the president is not heeding the call by many in Washington to scale down our efforts," Hill said. "The best way to address the extremely high demands that we are placing on our military heroes is to increase our overall military troop levels, a policy that the Legion has advocated since long before the war on terrorism started."

In October, The American Legion unanimously passed Resolution 1, which states, in part, "The American Legion fully supports the men, women and leadership of our armed forces as they are engaged in the global war on terrorism..." Although supportive of the military leadership, The American Legion was reminded that special weight must be given to the commanders in theater.

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The American Legion National Convention that the war cannot be won from the Pentagon. "You have to be there," he said. "You have to see and hear firsthand what the issues are. You can't hope to see problems through someone else's eyes if you aren't looking into those eyes."

"We wholeheartedly agree with Adm. Mullen on this point," Hill said.