05/07/13 Monday, Senator Joe Donnelly discussed his recent travel to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey. Donnelly, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led a congressional delegation to meet with U.S. military and diplomatic personnel as well as government leaders in each country. The group assessed U.S. progress in transitioning our troops out of Afghanistan, learned about security challenges in Pakistan, and met with Syrian opposition working on humanitarian relief and visited a Syrian refugee camp on the border in Turkey.
“On the Turkey-Syria border, we visited the Syrian refugee camps,” said Donnelly. “We face an extraordinarily difficult situation there. I wanted to get a firsthand view of the camps themselves, to talk to some of the Syrian opposition leaders, to meet with the families, and to meet with the government of Turkey as to the challenges they face in managing the humanitarian camps on the border. I support increasing humanitarian assistance as we continue to discuss how to address the Syrian challenge and am reviewing other options with regard to the course of U.S. involvement in Syria.
“While in Pakistan, we met with government, military, and business leaders with the goal of furthering our countries’ relationship. We must continue to improve our relationship and the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan to bring stability to the region. Pakistan is in the midst of an historic political transition, with national parliamentary elections on May 11. The delegation voiced support for the electoral process and the efforts made to ensure that this is a free and fair election.
“In Afghanistan, the Hoosier men and women I visited are focused on two things: defending our nation and getting our mission done. I felt very privileged to be with them again and to see the change they’ve created in Afghanistan and the respect they have everywhere else around the world. We are developing a partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces as we transition the lead for security operations, and we must continue to support political developments in the country that will increase services to the people, reduce corruption, and promote economic development. This is a long-term commitment to get the job done right—one that will take us beyond 2014 when the majority of our troops withdraw.”
Highlights of CODEL Donnelly included:
· Meeting with President Abdullah Gul
· Visiting U.S. Embassy and military officials, including U.S. troops manning the NATO Patriot Batteries
· Meeting with the Syrian Opposition Council Assistance Coordination Unit
· Visiting U.S. personnel delivering humanitarian and non-lethal assistance to Syrian refugees and opposition
· Touring the Kilis refugee camp on the Syrian border
· Meetings with the Chief of the Pakistan Army Staff, Defense Secretary of the Ministry of Defense, and Foreign Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
· Discussing the upcoming election with the Pakistan Election Commission
· Visiting with U.S. Embassy and military officials
· Meeting with U.S. Embassy and military officials, including Ambassador Cunningham, ISAF Commander Gen. Dunford, RC-South Commander MG Abrams and RC-Southwest Commander MG Miller
· Visiting members of the Indiana National Guard and other Indiana natives serving our country
· Touring the 254th Medical Detachment in Kandahar and suicide prevention programs