U.S. Rep. Bachus speaks to Lions

Published 10:41 pm Friday, April 9, 2010

U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus told members of the Clanton Lions Club that “they jury’s still out” on how successful the country will ultimately be in the war in Afghanistan.

The Republican congressman said new, “improved” war strategy would answer that question in a year to 18 months.

“We have a much better strategy, but will we lose out to the corruption (in the Afghan army and police,” Bachus said.

The representative said when the war first started the military didn’t have enough troops on the ground or understand how deep corruption ran throughout the Afghan government.

“It’s taken the military a long time to figure out how to win the war, but they are (now) doing it,” Bachus said, speaking during the club’s weekly meeting at Helen’s Place.

Bachus visited Afghanistan last year. He said U.S. soldiers are finally starting to trust the Afghan police and military.

He said troops told him there was just one Afghan battalion that they trusted and felt safe working alongside when the war started. That number is now up to 12-15, Bachus said.

Having Afghan troops and police carry more of the heavy lifting in eradicating terrorists is paramount to the war’s success, Bachus said.

“We have a winning strategy now; we haven’t had that before,” he said.

Bachus also briefly talked about healthcare reform.

He said some reforms are needed to address rising medical costs but that the legislation passed in Washington wasn’t the answer.

He pointed out that all of Alabama’s seven U.S. representatives or Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions voted against the legislation.

“The problem’s not Alabama,” Bachus said. “They (the state’s delegation) thought government management over healthcare wasn’t the answer.”