Congressman Larry Kissell (NC-08) was in Afghanistan over the Memorial Day weekend to visit troops, meet with the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force, General Stanley McChrystal, and get a briefing by the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry.
Congressman Kissell received a number of briefings and saw first-hand the military effort, reconstruction projects, and training of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. This was Congressman Kissell's third trip to Afghanistan to check on the progress and the troops deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
CODEL Kissell included Rep. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Rep. Frank Kratovil of Maryland, Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, Rep. Duncan Hunter of California and Rep. David Reichert of Washington.
"Memorial Day is a time to honor those who've made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, and it seems a fitting tribute to their memory to spend this time with the brave men and women serving our country in a combat zone far away from home," Kissell said. "I was honored to meet and spend some time with our courageous troops serving in Afghanistan, including some from the 8th District. I am so proud of the men and women in our Armed Services who dedicate their lives to serving our country with distinction. It is imperative that we never forget to honor the sacrifices of those who serve and their families who give so much of themselves in service to our nation."
CODEL Kissell was the first congressional delegation to visit Kandahar City since the war began. Being on the ground in Kandahar City gave Kissell and the group an opportunity to visit a police station, speak with the police chief about his concerns, and meet with members of the police force. He also had the opportunity to meet with the governor of Kandahar Province, Tooryalai Wesa, and mayor of Kandahar City, Ghulam Haider Hamidi, in the governor's palace. The meeting at the palace was the first for a congressional delegation. The group also had an opportunity to visit a local school and speak with teachers and students.
"As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, it is important for me to see first-hand the progress our forces continue to make. We must involve the Afghans in our decisions and ensure the Afghan leaders are truly leading," Kissell said. "While in Kandahar City, I met with Coalition Force Trainers working hand-in-hand with the Afghan National Police. I remain realistically optimistic about Afghanistan. The incredible professionalism of our Forces and our Coalition partners from all ranks fuels my optimism."
Kissell represents parts of the Fort Bragg military installation and serves on the House Armed Services Committee. In October of 2009, he traveled to Afghanistan as part of an operational assessment of Operation Enduring Freedom. In April of 2009, he traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait to make ground-level assessments.