The Hill: Our Visit To Afghanistan
Over Thanksgiving, our bipartisan delegation had the privilege of visiting Afghanistan to honor our troops and to receive briefings on security, the political transition in Afghanistan and counter-terrorism initiatives. On Thanksgiving Day, we ate with the soldiers and got to meet with service members from our home states. We were welcomed with hospitality and professionalism, and given objective and important information on the status of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. We received many briefings and visited with the president of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, who was elected last year. We also met with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Michael McKinley.
Although you’d have a difficult time finding a more diverse and politically different group of members of Congress, we all put our personal politics aside to visit with our heroes and receive updates from leaders in the country. All of us serve on the House Armed Services or Veterans Affairs committee, so it’s important we understand the progress we’re making in Afghanistan. There’s no question our military is working hard and doing a great job to train the Afghan National Army, and we were glad to have the opportunity to see their work firsthand.
When we first arrived in Kabul, we visited the U.S. Embassy and met with U.S. Army General John F. Campbell, the Commander of the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan since August 2014, for an update on the situation on the ground. We found General Campbell to be informed and passionate about the mission, and appreciated him taking the time to provide us with such an important briefing. We also had the opportunity to meet with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Michael McKinley. Ambassador McKinley and his team are critical to the success of the mission, and it was important for us to receive an update on our diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan.
Later, at Bagram Air Base, we had Thanksgiving with our troops. This was one of the most memorable parts of the trip, as we all enjoyed getting to talk with and share a meal with our service members. After, we received an update on some of the regional training efforts before departing for the Presidential Palace to meet with the president of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani. President Ghani hosted us at the Palace, and it was clear from our conversations that he is a willing partner in the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and that this is truly a joint operation.
For dinner, we each had the opportunity to meet with service members from our home states, another memorable experience. We received another briefing at NATO’s Special Operations Component Command in Afghanistan, also known as NSOCC-A. The following day we were given a final regional update before departing Afghanistan for Kuwait, where we met with servicemembers at Camp Arifjan and settled in for briefings from the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, the Combined Joint Task Force for Operation Inherent Resolve and U.S. Army Central.
It was a very informative visit, and we were honored to have the opportunity to meet with so many service members and to hear from military and diplomatic leaders. Although many of us had visited Afghanistan before, we all returned home with a stronger understanding of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and the progress we’re making. This Thanksgiving, we were thankful for the opportunity to serve our constituents, visit our brave soldiers and spend some time getting to know each other. We would like to thank the military for their hospitality, the Army Liaison’s office for making this visit possible and the staff at the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committees. This CODEL was an experience we won’t soon forget, and we’ll use the information received to further guide our positions on policy proposals that relate to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.