Letter from Sen. Baldwin: Senator Baldwin meets with troops and foreign leaders in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin joined a Congressional Delegation to meet with U.S. military, diplomatic personnel, and government leaders in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey last week. Baldwin also had the opportunity to meet with Wisconsin troops overseas.
The Congressional Delegation included Senators Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Chris Murphy of Connecticut, as well as Representative Peter Welch of Vermont.
In Afghanistan, Senator Baldwin visited Kabul, Kandahar and Helmand provinces. She met with active duty soldiers and reservists from Wisconsin and assessed U.S. progress in transitioning our troops out of Afghanistan.
"We travelled across the country, from Kabul to Kandahar to the scene of some of the most intense fighting our troops have seen--in Helmand province. I was humbled by the work of our Wisconsin servicemen and women. They are putting their lives on the line in brave service to our country," Baldwin said. "I was also impressed and proud of the progress our troops, development workers, and diplomats have made on the ground since my last trip to Afghanistan in August 2010."
They also met with Syrian opposition leadership, including those working on humanitarian relief inside Syria, and visited a Syrian refugee camp on the border in Turkey.
"Meeting with Syrian refugees and opposition leadership, right on the Syrian-Turkish border, I gained a strong understanding of the challenges facing the Syrian people and the destabilizing impact this conflict is having on the region. I came away with a deep appreciation of the fact that there are no good options in this troubling and tragic conflict. One thing is clear; a strong coalition of partners is needed to chart a productive path forward." Baldwin said. "While I will not support putting American boots on the ground in Syria, I remain supportive of increased humanitarian and non-lethal assistance. I applaud the Administration's announcement today of additional humanitarian aid to those affected by the Syrian conflict."
In Pakistan, the delegation learned about ways to strengthen America's relationship with the country. Senator Baldwin joined her colleagues in 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. The delegation also discussed the upcoming election with the Pakistan Election Commission, which will produce the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in the history of the country.
"This was a good opportunity to meet with key Pakistani leaders and gain insight into the challenges and opportunities facing this critical American relationship. Both countries have a great deal to gain by working to strengthen our partnership. With the upcoming elections, Pakistan is poised to produce their first transfer of power from one civilian government to another and that is an inspiring moment."
Congressional Delegation Visit Highlights
Visiting Kabul, Kandahar and Helmand province
Meeting with U.S. Embassy and military officials, including Ambassador Cunningham, ISAF Commander Gen. Dunford, RC-South Commander MG Abrams and RC-Southwest Commander MajGen Miller
Visiting with active duty soldiers and reservists from Wisconsin who are serving our country
Touring the 254th Medical Detachment in Kandahar and suicide prevention program
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