Rep. Keith Ellison questioned the American military commander in Afghanistan and the U.S. ambassador to the war-torn country in Washington today.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry appeared before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in the last of three days of Congressional hearings on the war in Afghanistan and the proposed surge of 30,000 troops there.
Ellison, D-Minn., asked the two about a so-called "civilian surge," to accompany the proposed 30,000 extra troops that President Barack Obama had pledged to send.
Eikenberry responded that the number of civilian aid workers, including staff from international development, the FBI and the Department of Agriculture and other agencies, will roughly triple by next year, to about 1,000.
"About 400 of those we project to be out in the field," Eikenberry said. "A really impressive array."
Eikenberry said that authorities are also talking with military officials to add as many as 200 more civilians in the next six to nine months.
Ellison said that he thought even more civilians might be necessary. But Ellison also told the two of the importance he military aid also played a key role in shoring up civil society and human rights in Afghanistan.
"When I was in Afghanistan only a few weeks ago, I was really impressed with many people I met, including several women legislators," Ellison said. "One of them was from Helmand Province. She told us, this is what she reported: that without the intervention of the U.S. marines, she probably couldn't even be a member of Parliament."
Ellison was part of a Congressional delegation that toured the country this fall.