For today's column offering my two cents on the ongoing costs of U.S. wars, I checked in with our two U.S. Sens. -- Bob Casey, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Pat Toomey, who visited Afghanistan in January.
Casey has been active in efforts to reduce IEDs (improvised explosive devices) responsibile for so many deaths of U.S. soldiers and civilians.
He sought cooperation in reducing the influx of ammonium nitrate, the key component in IED's, to war zones. And last month, following a report from the Government Accountability Office (assuming there is any accountability anywhere in government), he pressed for answers on what the office called ineffective efforts to reduce the devices.
A Casey spokesman tells me the senator thinks the Obama administration "could be doing more" to push Pakistan to target ammonium nitrate factories and border crossings into Afghanistan. The spokesman also called Casey's progress only "incremental...the flow of ammonium nitrate isn't slowing."
Toomey visited Afghanistan and Pakistan in January. Afterwards, he issued a press release praising our troops and saying the "big challenge now...is making sure there is an actively trained Afghan army, police force and other governmental institutions to be able to sustain the progress we have made."
I'm not entirely sure exactly what progress we have made.
So I tried to contact Toomey's office last Thursday. Got a recording on his D.C. office phone. Left my name, number and affiliation, asked for a call back. Still waiting.
Wars don't end themselves. As U.S. losses mount. both in terms of young lives and billions of dollars, it might be helpful if members of Congress grew a little more aggressive in seeking accountability for such losses, precise answers to what we've gained by such sacrifice and policies that serve our needs before we serve other nations.