10.26.09

Senator Burr Visits Afghanistan

Early this morning, I returned from a short trip to Afghanistan where I got the chance to survey military conditions on the ground first hand. I had the opportunity to meet with some of America's highest ranking military and political officials in Afghanistan, including General McChrystal and Ambassador Eikenberry. In my discussion with them, I was heartened by some of the headway being made by our military forces, but I agree with General McChrystal that we need to expand our forces on the ground in order to fulfill our mission there. I was very appreciative for the opportunity to meet with these men who are more knowledgeable than anyone about our current situation in Afghanistan, and I believe we need to heed the advice of those who are most familiar with the subject.

I also met with the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, to discuss the situation in the country and the pivotal role he plays as the first leader in the country's post Taliban democratic era. I also met with President Karzai's opponent in the upcoming run-off election, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. I discussed with both men the importance of having a strong leader to eliminate corruption and put power back in the hands of the Afghan people, and we agreed on the importance of a fair and democratic election in establishing a sense of confidence and legitimacy with the Afghan and American people. As I told both President Karzai and Dr. Abdullah, the most important outcome of this election is not who wins, but that they both join together with the Afghan people to rid the country of the Taliban's influence and provide security for the people so that ultimately coalition forces will no longer be neededfor protection.

On Sunday, I had the distinct honor to meet and have lunch with North Carolina soldiers from Fort Bragg and the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan. These men and women are some of the most courageous people I have ever met, and I am eternally grateful for their sacrifice and their service. These brave men and women, both servicemembers and civilians, understand why they are there and what their mission is. It is our responsibility to provide them with the resources and personnel, in accordance with the requests of our generals on the ground, to accomplish that mission.

It is important to recognize that although the mission in Afghanistan is difficult, there is progress being made. Our soldiers, along with the Afghan army they are training, are disrupting the Taliban with their presence and intelligence. President Obama's decision concerning the future of our mission there will be critical in predicting the outcome of this mission and the ability to place the future of Afghanistan back into the hands of the Afghan people by eliminating the external threats they face today.

Senators Burr, LeMieux, and Whitehouse standing in front of the International Security Assistance Force with Major General Mike Flynn (left), McChrystal's Director of Intelligence for ISAF, and Colonel Charles Flynn (right), General McChrystal's Executive Officer, ISAF

Senator Burr with soldiers and airmen from Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base in NC. With them on the left is Major General Curtis Scaparrotti, Commanding General of Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division and the Commanding General of Regional Command East, Afghanistan.