WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, last night returned from a Congressional Delegation trip to Africa and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, Senator Inhofe, along with the other members of the delegation, Representatives Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), and Jeff Miller (R-FL), met with General David McKiernan, Commander International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, at ISAF Headquarters in Kabul who briefed them on the status of U.S. and ISAF operations in Afghanistan. They also met with General Abdul Raheem Wardak, Afghanistan’s Minister of Defense, who gave the delegation an overview of the current situation in Afghanistan, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and the outlook for Afghanistan’s future. The Members also visited Camp Eggers in Kabul where they talked with troops from Oklahoma and around the nation.
“The highlight of every trip I make to Afghanistan and Iraq is talking with our troops,” Senator Inhofe said. “In Afghanistan, our troop morale remains high and our forces remain dedicated to defeating the deadly insurgency in Afghanistan by relentlessly taking the fight to the enemy. I was especially proud to meet with some of Oklahoma’s own Soldiers, Airmen and Marines who are serving their country. I would like all their families and loved ones back home to know that they are working hard and standing strong and that we are all proud of their sacrifice.
“I was pleased to meet with General David McKiernan and General Abdul Raheem Wardak during my trip, who updated us on the status of operations in Afghanistan. General Wardak was educated in the United States and actually trained at Ft. Sill in Oklahoma. They informed us that improvements continue to be made in assisting Afghanistan in establishing and maintaining their security. Together with ISAF, Afghanistan’s government is taking a regional approach to winning by building the will and capacity of the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the Afghan government. There continues to be a need for additional ISAF troops in the role of trainers and mentors of the Afghan National Army (ANA), as well as ANSF troops.
“The ‘Clear – Hold – Build Strategy’ that has been implemented in Afghanistan seeks to clear segmented areas of Afghanistan of all Taliban and extremists, then puts the ANSF in place to maintain security, allowing the Afghan government and ISAF to rebuild the area with a renewed focus on the Afghan people. In order for Afghans to begin to feel secure, the Afghan Government must work to establish trust and credibility with the people. In doing so, they must also work to establish governance at local and regional levels.
“Despite their efforts to establish regional shadow governments and courts in the southern region and contrary to recent press reports, Taliban influence has not increased. Their efforts for the most part have been ineffective and incoherent.
“Over 60% of the Afghan National Army is now capable of leading operations in Afghanistan. They still require enabling support by ISAF, to include firepower, air mobility, reconnaissance, close air support, and medical needs. General Wardak informed me that 89% of the population of Afghanistan respects the ANA and believes it to be effective. Supporting the ANA is smart investment of our resources, as it is 80 times less expensive than deploying ISAF troops and has the dual result of allowing more Afghans to defend their own nation.
“While improvements in governance have been made in the Afghan provinces along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan remain a concern that will require continued improvement and increased cooperation between ISAF, ANA and the Pakistani Military to guard against their common threat and enemy in the Taliban. Substantive work is being accomplished through the Tripartite Commission and Border Security Subcommittee Meetings, made up of senior leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and ISAF, improving and increasing cooperation between these three parties.”