CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After last week's vote in the U.S. Senate on a resolution to end the war in Afghanistan by 2014, Sen. Joe Manchin said American troops should be removed from the country sooner if possible.
"We need a quicker transition to Afghan security from our security. This amendment urges the change to take place in the summer of 2013," Manchin said. "Hopefully, we can bring a quicker end to the involvement of the U.S. in combat."
The Senate passed the resolution by a 62-33 vote on Thursday. Thirteen Republicans backed the resolution, which is a nonbinding amendment to the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who introduced the resolution, said this was the first time in 11 years that either the Senate or the House voted to end the war. He said the resolution essentially provided bipartisan endorsement of President Obama's plan to pull troops out by the end of 2014, but encouraged him to do it sooner.
Manchin agreed. "I don't want to put any more of our men and women in harm's way. I don't want to lose any more lives and I don't want to invest any more money in this war," he said during a telephone interview with the Sunday Gazette-Mail.
"Over half a trillion dollars has been spent in Afghanistan. All those resources could have been invested in America. If 2,000 of our troops did not die there, we could have had those bright and talented people working in America.
"We haven't changed anything in Afghanistan. Everything has gotten more violent and more volatile," Manchin said.
The Senate resolution was prompted in part by a resolution in the House of Representatives that senators believed placed no limits on the United States' future engagement in Afghanistan.
The Senate resolution stated the "president should ... continue to draw down United States troop levels at a steady pace through the end of 2014; and end all regular combat operations by United States troops by not later than Dec. 31, 2014."
The resolution urged the White House to "take all possible steps to end such operations at the earliest date consistent with a safe and orderly draw down of United States troops in Afghanistan."
"Let's get the heck out of that place. It makes no sense," Manchin said. "I would like to be out this coming year."
Manchin stressed turning over defense of the country to Afghans.