Lombardian/Villa Park - Roskam involves constituents of the Sixth District while visiting Iraq
By Lawerence W. Synett
Lombardian/Villa Park Review Writer
U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-6th District) touched base with thousands of his constituents on Saturday, Aug. 4, from an unexpected place to those tuning in-Iraq.
"Hello, it's Congressman Peter Roskam, and I'm talking to you live right now from Iraq," Roskam said to the nearly 6,000 constituents taking part in a tele-town hall meeting at 2 p.m. on Saturday, which was 11 p.m. Iraqi time.
For just over an hour, Roskam answered questions from his constituents about what he had seen so far during his four-day trip to Iraq.
The trip was the Republican's first Congressional Delegation (CODEL), which is a trip abroad by a group of congressional members.
The trip was a bipartisan CODEL, involving five other members. The members joined the United States Air Force from Washington, D.C., to Kuwait, and then hopped on-board a Lockheed C-130 Hercules with other men and women serving the military, and landed in Iraq on the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 3.
"Being next to these young men and women, and seeing the battle gear they have on, and knowing the things we are asking them to do, is a humbling thing," said Roskam during the teleconference.
Before the tele-town hall meeting, which allowed participants to either field questions or listen to what the Republican had to say, the five members visiting Iraq were involved in a meeting with Gen. David Petraeus, commander of forces in Iraq.
According to Roskam, the meeting gave him and the other members in attendance an overview of exactly what our country is involved in in Iraq.
"I was so very impressed by the clarity of his leadership, which I believe is very important," said Roskam of Petraeus.
Roskam also commented on the importance of a bipartisan trip as compared to a strictly Republican or Democratic one.
"The general was meeting with American congressmen, and I think that is a very important thing," said Roskam. "This wasn't about donkeys and elephants, this was about what our country is involved in."
After expressing what he had seen thus far during his time in Iraq, constituents of the Sixth District posed various questions to the Republican: What do we do after the "surge"? Does Congress know we are dealing with a 4,000 year old civilization? How are the troops handling the heat in those heavy uniforms?
"We're not out of the woods yet by a long shot on the surge," Roskam said of the surge. "But what he [Petraeus] described was tactical momentum."
Roskam, who stated that the temperature on the tarmac when he landed in Kuwait was 130 degrees, said that "the heat is very difficult and a significant burden" on the troops.
He also discussed troop deployment.
"We are reaching a point at which we have to be very careful about extending deployment any further," said Roskam, who voted against setting a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops. "Once the surge is complete, it will take at least a couple of years to remove all of our troops."