President Obama may have declared that the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan has ended. But the country is still so dangerous that the Pentagon has banned members of Congress and their aides from traveling there this summer, U.S. officials told The Daily Beast.
While the Pentagon’s ban was officially issued as “guidance,” congressional aides are calling it a “blackout” that prevents lawmakers from performing their oversight duties. The U.S. has spent trillions in taxpayer dollars fighting a war in Afghanistan and training and equipping the country’s security forces. But this summer sees the beginning of the traditional fighting season, when Taliban violence flares up. And with thousands of American troops pulling out of the country, the Pentagon doesn’t have the equipment and manpower to keep visiting legislators and their staff safe, officials said.
“What we find problematic about this is that it highlights the fact that we don’t have enough troops there to support the mission,” one senior Senate aide told The Daily Beast. “Concerns regarding taking U.S. congressional staff or lawmakers to the region show that there aren’t enough resources in the region to take people there safely—and that it’s not safe even though [the Obama administration] said the war is over.”