GOP taps veterans for Afghan advice

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As a Marine lieutenant in Iraq in 2004, Duncan Hunter was poised for an assault on Fallujah when the order came down from Washington to pull out instead. It was the kind of top-down military decision — which in this case had to be reversed when security in Fallujah later deteriorated — that Hunter hopes will not be repeated in Afghanistan.

Now, five years later and a freshman congressman from California, Hunter is in a much better position to have his voice heard. As an Iraq war veteran, he has been enlisted by the House Republican leadership to help make its case that President Barack Obama should support Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan — and do it soon.

In some ways, he is reprising the role that Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania has played for the Democrats. Murphy, who saw action in Iraq in 2003 with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, was elected to Congress in 2006. Encouraged by his party, he became a spokesman against the Iraq war, though, right now, the only thing he’ll say about McChrystal’s request is that he’s “still working through it.”

Hunter and Murphy are two of the five current House members who deployed to support Afghanistan or Iraq. Of the others, one, Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, is a Republican, and the other two, Reps. John Boccieri of Ohio and Tim Walz of Minnesota, are Democrats.

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