Lawmakers from both parties Tuesday gave President Barack Obama guarded praise for his decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, but some expressed concern that his time frame for victory is too short.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a military lawyer who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, voiced regret that the troop buildup is necessary eight years after the United States toppled the Taliban government following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"I think every American is disappointed that eight years into this thing, we need to send 30,000 more troops," Graham told CNN after Obama's televised address to cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.
Graham questioned Obama's assertion that "our troops will begin to come home" 18 months after the buildup begins.
"How will the enemy perceive that?" Graham said. "It's not realistic that we can withdraw a lot of troops in 18 months ... My question is - have we undercut our efforts before we start?"
Rep. John Spratt, chairman of the House Budget Committee, also expressed surprise over the 18-month time frame.
"He's proposing to send 10,000 fewer troops than Gen. (Stanley) McChrystal requested, and to complete the mission in less time than anyone would have thought possible before tonight," said Spratt, a Democrat.
"It's ambitious, for sure, but at least he's saying that we're not making an open-ended commitment or taking on an endless obligation," he said.
Republican Sen. Jim DeMint gave Obama his support even as he criticized the president for having taken more than three months to fulfill military commanders' request for more troops in Afghanistan.
"We must win the war on terror to prevent future attacks like the ones on September the 11th," DeMint said.
Republican Rep. Gresham Barrett also criticized Obama for failing to act sooner and expressed "concerns that this deployment may not fully meet the needs of our forces in the region."
Noting his past service in the Army, Barrett also objected to Obama's talk of when U.S. troops will start leaving Afghanistan. "There may be too much emphasis on creating an exit strategy. Instead of creating arbitrary time lines, our primary purpose should be ensuring that the people of Afghanistan, its surrounding borders and the United States are safe."
Republican Rep. Joe Wilson, noting that his four sons serve in the military, said he hopes Obama will rally congressional leaders behind his Afghan strategy.
Republican Rep. Henry Brown said he supported Obama's deployment of more troops, but regretted the delay since McChrystal called for more troops.
Republican Rep. Bob Inglis, however, said he appreciated the president "thoughtfully considering all the options. We must be wise and constantly assess our strategies and tactics."