Congressional Delegation: Increased Attention Must Be Paid to the Forgotten War in Afghanistan
In Afghanistan, the delegation assessed the war and reconstruction efforts with President Hamid Karzai. The delegation included Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member David Hobson; Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton; Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos; Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes; Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha; and State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Nita Lowey.
'The purposes of our trip to Afghanistan were to salute our troops, visit with President Karzai, and meet with leaders of the NATO military effort. For five and a half years, our troops have been on the front line of the war on terror in Afghanistan. It is appropriate that we come here early in the new Congress to pay tribute to the men and women who are serving with great distinction in this critical task.
'In our discussions, President Karzai stressed the crucial importance of reconstruction. The delegation commended him for his leadership and discussed additional steps that would enhance the authority of the central government and improve the security situation in the country. We are encouraged by reports of a proposed supplemental assistance package to enhance our efforts to assist our Afghan partners. We will expeditiously consider this legislation and urge the international community to invest more fully in Afghanistan's future.
'The delegation is deeply concerned about the escalating poppy cultivation problem in Afghanistan. Without aggressive action, this drug problem risks undermining the efforts of the Afghan government and coalition forces to stabilize the country.
'Many of us have been convinced for some time that additional forces would benefit the forgotten war in Afghanistan. We are pleased our commanders will now have larger numbers of American troops to prepare for challenging operations in the spring. In addition, the delegation appreciates the contributions of our NATO partners and looks forward to the fulfillment of their military commitments to this mission.
'We were honored to meet with in Afghanistan our troops, whose patriotism, courage, and devotion to duty are a source of great pride. Their efforts often do not receive attention reflecting the magnitude of their mission. We are grateful to them and to their families for all they are doing for our nation.'