September 19, 2013

The Sept. 16 op-ed “A disservice to Afghans,” by Dakota Meyer and Bing West, offered moving commentary on the embarrassing Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) backlog, but the rhetoric requires augmentation. Sgt. Meyer and Mr. West called for Congress to pass sections of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that would impose stricter oversight of SIV approval processes, but it will take more than congressional action to solve this problem.

True, the provisions in the legislation — an embassy senior coordinator responsible for efficiency and integrity, detailed quarterly reports, deadlines, written decisions accompanying application denials and opportunities for appeal — are necessary and welcome, but the State Department’s failure to sufficiently implement the legislation that created the Afghan SIV program suggests that the problem is with execution, not policy. Fixing a convoluted bureaucratic process that wends its way back and forth through multiple offices within the departments of State and Homeland Security and involves linguists working with the Defense Department will require action from the very top of the executive branch.

President Obama should publicly support Sections 1217 and 1218 of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act and hold his secretaries accountable for vigorous and speedy implementation.

Rucker Hunt Culpepper,

Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan

The writer is a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.