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Kilmer returns from first trip to Afghanistan
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer said he was impressed by American soldiers serving in Afghanistan and said he would continue working to bring U.S. troops home by the end of 2014.
Kilmer just returned from a three-day congressional delegation to Afghanistan, his first visit to the country.
Kilmer, a 6th District Democrat and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, met with leadership of the U.S. and Afghan militaries and also met with soldiers from Washington and California.
“Our troops, our veterans, and their families continue to inspire me by their dedication and service to our nation,” Kilmer said.
“I went to Afghanistan, not only to see firsthand the progress being made by our troops but also to thank them for their extraordinary work," he said. "It’s one thing to get a briefing on our troops’ progress toward withdrawing the US military presence by the end of 2014, it’s another to meet them face-to-face and see their hard work in person."
Kilmer met mostly with senior U.S. military officers and American and Afghan military troops in Kabul and at Bagram Airfield and also visited Forward Operating Base Lightning in eastern Afghanistan.
"Particularly during this period of instability in the Middle East, it was an important time to meet with our military leaders and our troops on the ground to assess the situation in Afghanistan," Kilmer said. "This is a real period of transition for Afghanistan, both militarily and politically. As we wind down our troop presence and transfer authority to the Afghan people, these next several months are going to be critical to determining the country's strength in the years ahead. Our military — working with troops from other nations — continues to train and advise the Afghan National Security Forces in hopes of ensuring that they are capable of protecting their own nation and keeping it from becoming a haven for terrorism going forward."
Kilmer and the other members of the congressional delagation were also briefed on the status of the Afghan elections planned for this spring and on the negotiation of a critical Bilateral Security Agreement which will define the involvements and commitments of the United States, if any, following 2015.
"I look forward to continuing my work on the Armed Services Committee to support our troops in their mission to stabilize the country, ensure the democratic election coming up next April is a success, and get them home safely by the end of 2014,” Kilmer said.
The trip included meetings and updates from American and Afghan military and political leadership including International Security Assistance Force Commander General Joseph Dunford, III Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, American Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham, Afghan National Security Advisor Dr. Ragin Spanta, Aghan Army Chief of Staff General Sher Mohammad Karimi, and the Afghan Special Forces.
The delegation also met with representatives of the State Department and USAID.