Category Archives: Talking Points

Fact Check: Afghanistan 10+ Years Later

*Click here for a downloadable pamphlet of this fact sheet*

No one is paying attention to this war – not even Congress – very few are asking questions – but everyone needs to care about what is happening in Afghanistan.

Lobbyists continually pressure Congress to keep war going, war is a lucrative business

According to a Pew Research Center Poll last summer, 59% of Americans want an Immediate Withdrawal from Afghanistan

If we want the war to end we must pressure our President and Congress. Call, write, email, or visit your local congressional offices. Click here to find your Senators and Representatives contact information.

  • The Human Costs of War – Afghanistan – as of March 1, 2012: 1,909 U.S. service members dead and over 15,000 injured (Injuries do not include Post Traumatic Stress or Traumatic Brain Injury)
  • Afghanistan is the 2nd most corrupt country in the world behind North Korea and Somalia which are tied for first place (Transparency International).Why should any more Americans die or be injured in support of the Karzai government? The Karzai government’s corruption actually pushes Afghans to the insurgency.
  • We have spent (actually borrowed) $440 billion on Afghanistan alone and will spend another $113 million in 2012.
  • The cost of keeping one American service member in Afghanistan costs between $850,000 and $1.4 million a year, depending on who you ask. (CNN, L. Shaughnessy)
  • More U.S. Troops Killed by Afghans They Armed and Trained In 2012 (March 4, 2012 by Alex Newman)
    • at least 1 out of 4 coalition troops slain in Afghanistan this year (as of March 4, 2012) was killed by Afghan security forces.
    • Pentagon data cited by the Associated Press show that, since 2007, more than 75 coalition personnel have been killed by Afghan security forces and over 110 have been wounded.
    • A recent Washington Post analysis revealed that the numbers are likely greater than NATO has been willing to admit.
  • After $52 billion spent training and equipping the Afghan National Security forces, Pentagon officials estimate that 1% of Afghan units can operate without NATO assistance. (Afghanistan Study Group)
  • Afghan Police and Afghan Army members, trained by the U.S., continue to desert in droves
  • The SURGE has not worked. As we escalated the war, the insurgency fought harder and got more recruits to fight against us – Afghans consider us foreign occupiers in their homeland. (Information below from interviews with Matthew Hoh and Lt Col Davis)
    • In 2011 there was a 10% increase in IED attacks from the previous high in 2010
    • In 2011 there were 16,000 IED attacks against our troops – 45x a day – a record
    • We have not stopped the insurgency’s momentum if they can carry out 16,000 IED attacks in one year
    • 24 months BEFORE surge – 3,400 Americans killed and wounded (472 killed – the rest wounded)
    • 24 months AFTER surge – 11,000 Americans killed and wounded (917 killed – the rest wounded)
    • Over, 5,500 Americans killed and wounded in 2011 (418 killed – the rest wounded)
    • A ratio of about 1 dead to every 10 wounded – in past wars the ratio was 1 dead to every 3 wounded
  • Al-Qaeda is gone and Osama Bin Laden is dead, our presence in Afghanistan is counterproductive. It hurts our national security by creating more enemies and hurts our economy.
  • A recent report by U.N. Mission in Afghanistan states that 2011 was the 5th straight year in which Afghan civilian casualties rose. We are not winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, so obvious in the current rioting over the burning of the Koran.
  • Leaked Kabul reports state that the Taliban feel they are winning putting the U.S. in a much more difficult negotiating position
  • Our military gains mean very little when up against a corrupt Karzai government and an inept Afghan police and Afghan Army – How Do We Justify Continued Sacrifice for an Unsustainable Result?
  • “Our military men and women have succeeded in everything we’ve asked of them. It’s our political leaders – from both parties – who have failed us. It’s Time to Declare Victory in Afghanistan and Come Home – Before we have to Shoot our Way Out, .” KT McFarland, Feb 29, 2012
  • Congress has lost sight of their responsibility to learn the truth about war, instead simply deferring to whatever the military generals recommend. Congress has not asked the hard questions getting to the truth about war, demanding that the military backup its recommendations with solid, detailed military evidence.
    • “Both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees have exhibited little or no interest in probing behind the official claims of success in Afghanistan. That passive role reflects what many political observers, including some members of Congress, see as cozy relationships among most committee members, military leaders, Pentagon officials and major military contractors.” (quote from Gareth Porter article Army Officer’s Leaked Report Rips Afghan War Success Story – http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=106726
  • More time, money, and resources will not change the realities in Afghanistan – end combat operations now – work toward a diplomatic political solution for Afghanistan and the region – continue humanitarian aid to independent agencies (not attached to the military) working to assist the Afghan people.

Lt. Col. Davis

  • Lt. Col. Davis – a highly respected, active duty Army officer, wrote a scathing report about the actual state of affairs in Afghanistan after his recent return from Afghanistan, his 2nd tour of duty there.
  • Davis was a staff officer of the “Rapid Equipping Force” traveling more than 9,000 miles to every area where U.S. troop presence was significant and had conversations with more than 250 U.S. soldiers from privates to division commanders.

Lt Col. Davis’ remarks:

“Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the U.S. Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable This deception has damaged America’s credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan.”

On Afghan army and police:

”What I saw first-hand, in virtually every circumstance,” “was a barely functioning organization – often cooperating with the insurgent enemy…”

  • The inaccurate assigning of the reason for the 2007 Iraq surge’s success has profound implications for our current war in Afghanistan and doubly so for the surge forces ordered by the President in late 2009.
  • Had the President known the truth of what really happened in 2007 Iraq it is a virtual certainty he would not have made the decision he did in November / December 2009.
  • The turning point in the Iraq War was in 2007 when the heart of the Sunni insurgency turned against Al-Qaeda and joined US forces against them, dramatically reducing the violence in Iraq almost overnight
  • We did not win Sunnis to our side with COIN (protecting the population) and the surge in troops (only played a supporting role)
  • In 2007 the Sunnis were fighting the U.S. – they wanted us out of their country. The Sunnis only turned to the Americans when Al-Qaeda instituted a campaign of absolute terror against the Sunnis. The Sunnis sided with Americans to stop Al-Qaeda’s slaughter of Sunnis.
  • “had Al-Qaeda not turned to such brutality and begin slaughtering what ought to have been their natural Sunni allies, they would have almost certainly never come to the American’s side.”
  • The National Intelligence Estimate (signed by all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies) backs up Lt. Col Davis’ claims – THE NIE finds the war in Afghanistan a “stalemate”.
  • Reps. McGovern, Jones and others are calling for the release of an unclassified NIE report
  • Our leaders and the American people need the truth and all the facts about Afghanistan to make informed decisions about the war.

Our troops and all Americans deserve the truth.

Lt. COL. DAVIS RECOMMENDS:

  • U.S. Congress – the House and Senate Armed Services Committees – “should conduct a bi-partisan investigation into the various charges of deception or dishonesty in this report and hold broad hearings as well,” “These hearings need to include the very senior generals and former generals whom I refer to in this report so they can be given every chance to publicly give their version of events.”
  • “In other words, put the generals under oath, and then see what story they tell.” (quote from Rolling Stones article author, Michael Hastings)
  • Testimony should include not only senior military officials but platoon leaders, sergeants, as well as mid- and senior- level intelligence analysts from the Defense Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies.

TAKE ACTION: IT’S OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO SPEAK UP FOR OUR BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM

Visit, call, write, or email the President and your Congressional representatives today. Tell them to end combat operations in Afghanistan now and work on a diplomatic political solution for Afghanistan and the region.

Talking Points: Obama’s New Plan Too Little, Too Late

Below you will find some talking points to assist you when speaking to press, legislators, friends, and family about Obama’s new Afghanistan withdrawal plan.

A few things to remember…

Statistics can change minds, but only stories can change hearts. Commonly held beliefs about the war are often based on emotional reactions, not logic.  The most powerful tool you have is your own personal story – the facts are here to back you up.

We are more powerful together than alone. While it’s your individual story that changes hearts, showing that there is a movement of military families speaking out against the war can change the power structure.  Make sure to mention Military Families Speak Out whenever you speak to the press or legislators. Most of our members found us because they heard someone like you mention their membership in a local paper, at a rally, or online!

People care most about what impacts them directly (and remember, journalists and legislators are people too), so always try to make a local connection.  The National Priorities Project has a great new report out on “U.S. Jobs and Budget Crises” with reports for each individual state “provid[ing] current data to help you understand the depth of the problems confronting your state and community, and see the local impact of federal policies.”  Visit http://www.nationalpriorities.org/jobs-and-state-budget-crises to download your state report.  Also, make sure to check out National Priority Projects’ “Cost of War” database to find out how much money your community has spent on the wars and what that money could have paid for instead – http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home

Talking points are not a script.  Try to put them in your own words so they sound natural.  If there’s something on here you’re not comfortable saying, don’t say it!

Main Points

In December of 2009, President Obama announced that he would begin bringing our troops home from Afghanistan in July of 2011.i Now as that deadline approaches, the President has reiterated his pledge for a “significant” reduction of U.S. combat forces. On Wednesday, Obama announced plans to bring home 10,000 troops by the end of 2011, followed by another 23,000 in 2012.ii While we applaud any service members returning home, this plan maintains 70,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan through 2014. 3 more years is unacceptable for a military community who have already suffered through 10 years of war, multiple deployments, deteriorating troop morale, and extremely high rates of suicide and Post Traumatic Stress.

Keeping America safe does not require 100,000 troops (or 70,000 troops) in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is no longer in Afghanistaniii but scattered around the world. According to CIA Director Leon Panetta, there are less than 100 members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. It did not take 100,000 troops to find Osama bin Laden and it does not take a military occupation of Afghanistan to protect us from terrorist threats.

The American public is overwhelmingly in favor of bringing our troops home now. Public opinion polls have consistently shown that 73% of the American people favor bringing our troops home beginning this summeriv and ending the war in Afghanistan. Americans overwhelmingly understand that U.S. soldiers have done their job and driven al Qaeda from Afghanistan. After 10 years, it is time for our troops to come home.

This weekend, US mayors joined the chorus calling on the federal government to end the wars, and redirect military spending to fund human needs at home.v

Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate have come out strongly in support of a “sizable and sustained” withdrawal of troops. Over 200 Representatives supported McGovern’s amendement and 27 Senators signed a letter to the President, asking for the troops to be brought home as soon as possible.vi

The financial and human costs of continuing the war are indefensible. With over 1,600 troops killed and tens of thousands more wounded, the human toll of the war continues to mount every day. And while Congress fights over every penny of domestic funding, it is time to admit that we can no longer afford over $100 billion a year – $2 billion each and every weekvii – in additional debt from the war.

Now is the time to end the war in Afghanistan, bring our troops home, and make sure there are jobs and a functioning VA system for them to come home to.

Tell Your MFSO Story

Speak from your experience and your heart. Your personal stories of how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have impacted your family’s lives contain compelling reasons for bringing our troops home now. This is especially effective when you explicitly explain how your own experience parallels the situation of hundreds of thousands of others.

Try to always mention MFSO when you speak, write, or give interviews – it lets other military families who oppose these wars know that they are not alone and that there is an organization that can help us make our voices heard. We’re more powerful as a movement than we are alone.

If getting the support of other MFSO members has helped you, please tell those stories.

When representing MFSO, please focus your responses on our points of organizational agreement, and if asked about other political questions (especially regarding electoral choices), make clear that we are a nonpartisan organization with diverse views. You can give whatever opinions you want as an individual.

We all agree about:

  • Pulling our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan now.
  • Taking care of veterans when they get home.
  • Preventing future illegal and/or immoral wars

i http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-address-nation-way-forward-afghanistan-and-pakistan

ii http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/06/22/president-obama-way-forward-afghanistan

iii Leon Panetta on ABC News “This Week” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/27/leon-panetta-there-may-be_n_627012.html

iv Washington Post-ABC News Poll, June 2-5, 2011

v http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/06/20-7

vi http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/checkpoint-washington/post/27-senators-call-for-new-strategy-in-afghanistan/2011/06/15/AGMg0MWH_blog.html

Talking Points for the Anniversary of the Iraq War

Talking Points from Military Families Speak Out
Below you will find some talking points to assist you when speaking to press, legislators, friends, and family about the human and financial costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A few things to remember…Statistics can change minds, but only stories can change hearts.
Commonly held beliefs about the war are often based on emotional reactions, not logic. The most powerful tool you have is your own personal story – the facts are here to back you up.

We are more powerful together than alone.
While it’s your individual story that changes hearts, showing that there is a movement of military families speaking out against the war can change the power structure. Make sure to mention Military Families Speak Out whenever you speak to the press or legislators. Most of our members found us because they heard someone like you mention their membership in a local paper, at a rally, or online!

People care most about what impacts them directly
(and remember, journalists and legislators are people too), so always try to make a local connection.  The National Priorities Project has a great new report out on “U.S. Jobs and Budget Crises” with reports for each individual state “provid[ing] current data to help you understand the depth of the problems confronting your state and community, and see the local impact of federal policies.” Visit http://www.nationalpriorities.org/jobs-and-state-budget-crises to download your state report. Also, make sure to check out National Priority Projects’ “Cost of War” database to find out how much money your community has spent on the wars and what that money could have paid for instead- http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home

Talking points are not a script.
Try to put them in your own words so they sound natural. If there’s something on here you’re not comfortable saying, don’t say it!

Main Points:

1. The Wars in Iraq & Afghanistan are NOT over
Since the supposed end of combat operations in Iraq last summer, 21 U.S. troops and at least 720 Iraqi civilians have been killed.

Our ongoing military presence in Iraq will cost $65 billion in 2011 alone. According to many analysts, Obama will likely maintain 5 U.S. bases and 50,000 troops in Iraq indefinitely.

The July drawdown date for Afghanistan is a false promise. More troops are being sent to Afghanistan all the time, and the only ones being withdrawn in July are support troops, who’s departure “would not diminish the coalition’s fighting power as significantly as sending home troops whose full-time mission is combat.” (According to the NY Times)

2. The American people are overwhelmingly against the war in Afghanistan
Nearly two-thirds of Americans now say the war in Afghanistan is no longer worth fighting, the highest proportion yet opposed to the conflict, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

3. Our troops and military families can’t take indefinite war in Iraq & Afghanistan, and neither can our national budget.

5,906 U.S. Soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan

42,517 U.S. Soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan

21,117 U.S. Soldiers committed suicide from 2001-2010

After 8 years in Iraq and nearly 10 years in Afghanistan, military families are exhausted from multiple deployments and ever-growing rates of trauma among returning troops. It is estimated that up to 50% of soldiers who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Of these, only one in four report receiving “adequate care.” It is irresponsible to send more troops into harm’s way when we can’t treat those who are already injured.

Returning veterans are now facing rapidly rising unemployment rates, over 20% for returning veterans between the ages of 18-24.

48 states are facing an ongoing state budget crisis, causing severe cuts in education, public housing, and essential services like police and firefighters. According to the National Priorities Project, what we will spend in Iraq in 2011 could instead pay for over 1 million jobs, or 13.4 million people receiving low-income health care.

The operational costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already surpassed $1 trillion. Economists estimate providing care for returning veterans will cost upwards of another $1 trillion. With an already struggling Veteran’s Administration, we don’t have the infrastructure or the money to provide adequate care for the veterans of these wars.

While the Pentagon has submitted a proposal to increase their budget by $500 billion in the next 10 years, the Obama administration is proposing a 3 year freeze on “discretionary spending,” the money which goes towards things like transportation, education, and housing.

4. Tell Your MFSO Story
Speak from your experience and your heart. Your personal stories of how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have impacted your family’s lives contain compelling reasons for bringing our troops home now. This is
especially effective when you explicitly explain how your own experience parallels the situation of hundreds of thousands of others.

Try to always mention MFSO when you speak, write, or give interviews – it lets other military families who oppose these wars know that they are not alone and that there is an organization that can help us make
our voices heard. We’re more powerful as a movement than we are alone.

If getting the support of other MFSO members has helped you, please tell those stories.