WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today made the following statement after returning yesterday from an overseas trip to Afghanistan, marking his seventeenth visit to the CENTCOM area of responsibility.
“During my time in Afghanistan, I witnessed first-hand progress being made in security, development, and governance. While there, I met with Army Major General Robert Cone and Army General McNeill and was encouraged by their positive reports. I also had the opportunity to meet with several of our brave men and women in uniform, many of them Oklahomans. They are proud to be serving their country during such an important time and I continue to be encouraged by their dedication and commitment to the cause in Afghanistan.
“With conditions improving in Iraq, more attention has been paid to Afghanistan. The Afghan National Army (ANA) has fielded 48 infantry battalions with several battalions close to achieving the capability to conduct independent operations. They also reported that the ANA will reach its planned end strength of about 70,000 by 2010.
“Significant progress has also been made in Afghanistan’s economy and infrastructure. The World Bank has predicted economic growth from ten to thirteen percent next year and over 1,000 structures and 11,000 kilometers of roads have recently been constructed in the country. Furthermore, more Afghan children are now in school than any other time in the country’s history.
“The Taliban has proved unable to hold their ground in any engagement against the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). They have increasingly resorted to tactics currently being used in Iraq, including the use of IEDs and attacks against the general population, specifically women and children. They also continue to attack high-value targets using similar asymmetric methods. However, their resort to these tactics demonstrates that the Taliban’s leadership is fracturing. Our special operations forces have captured or killed over 60 senior Taliban leaders in this year alone.”