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Senator Kelly talks military future, Afghanistan exit

Visited Raytheon for update on advanced weapons
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Posted at 7:16 PM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-05 13:14:28-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Weapons of the future, and a war we are trying to put in our past---both were topics as Senator Mark Kelly visited Raytheon Friday.

Raytheon is our area’s largest private employer and a major player in the sort of advanced new weapons the U.S. will rely on more and more in the future. With that in mind, Senator Mark Kelly dropped in on Raytheon to have a look.

Senator Kelly is a former astronaut and former Navy combat pilot. In the Senate, he’s on the Armed Services Committee and leads the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats.

He says the U.S. is concentrating less on low tech conflicts to gear up for the potential of high tech adversaries.

“We've got to kind of reorient our focus to what are future threats to our country. They're not substantial in the Middle East. They come in the Western Pacific. So China, Russia, that's where our focus needs to be, and advanced weaponry, advanced missile systems is part of how we're going to stay ahead of our adversaries.”

And that’s where Raytheon comes in, upgrading existing systems and developing new ones.

Senator Kelly says the exit from Afghanistan is a sign of those shifting military priorities, but he says the U.S. should have had a better plan for how and when to withdraw and was not prepared for how quickly the country would fall.

“This was not anticipated. I mean I received information and intelligence briefings that it would be about six to 12 months. And in that period of time we could see the Afghan military fold or maybe Kabul would fall to the Taliban in six to 12 months. It took 12 days from the time of the last briefing I had. 12 days later it was over.”

Kelly says it’s our responsibility to help our Afghan allies get to safety in the U.S. now. He says his office has been doing that along with helping Americans escape Afghanistan.