U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-CA) today returned from a week-long Congressional Delegation (CODEL) to Slovakia, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti and Spain. The bipartisan delegation was led by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA). Rep. Denham was joined on the trip by Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA), Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).
"The United States' allies throughout the Middle East share our commitment to securing peace in the region. This week provided a valuable opportunity to meet with and exchange ideas with several key figures in Georgia and Slovakia to gain first-hand insight into the status of ongoing military efforts in the Middle East," said Denham.
In Slovakia, the delegation met with senior uniformed and civilian officials and took time to recognize the significant commitment of the Slovak military in Afghanistan.
While in Georgia, the Congressmen visited the grand opening of a local medical clinic and were briefed on the status of the upcoming national elections by both the President and opposition leadership. The delegation was also updated on the status of the Georgian-American military partnership and briefed by the United States Marine Corps on their efforts to prepare Georgian Infantry Battalions for combat in Afghanistan.
"I was newly inspired by the level of dedication and commitment from our uniformed service members and our Middle East partners there to their mission of supporting global security," Denham continued. "It was truly an honor to personally thank each and every one of them for their work toward achieving greater stability and securing peace in the Middle East, especially in areas where the U.S. has a strong military and diplomatic presence."
Following their departure from The Republic of Georgia, Denham and the delegation arrived in Sanaa, Yemen to meet with President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi and survey the fragile security situation on the Arabian Peninsula.
"This trip was a great opportunity to sustain the strong diplomatic relationships between the United States and Georgia and Slovakia," Shuster said. "It was also incredibly valuable to receive a first-hand account of the volatile security situation in Yemen and the Horn of Africa."
Before making a final stop in Rota, Spain to meet with Navy officials, the CODEL visited Camp Lemmonier in Djibouti, Africa, to celebrate the 4th of July with the men and women deployed as part of the Combined Joint Task Force -- Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). The delegation also took the opportunity to meet with senior military leaders in Djibouti to discuss ongoing efforts to improve regional security in East Africa.
"Having the chance to spend the Fourth of July holiday with our troops overseas was a humbling reminder of the heroism and sacrifice of the men and women bravely serving our country that makes America what it is today," Denham added.
"This CODEL provided numerous opportunities to personally thank our uniformed service members and our allies for the work they have done in the War on Terror," said Shuster. "Georgia and Slovakia continue to provide a disproportionally large presence in Afghanistan, and our military is doing unbelievable work to support global security in Yemen and Djibouti. There is an incredible amount of sacrifice and selfless service happening throughout the globe and every member of this delegation is now better informed to make decisions back in Washington."
"I was most thankful to spend Independence Day overseas with our troops. I was glad to have the opportunity to thank them for their dedication in person, and I will continue to work to ensure that we don't forget their service upon their return," said Altmire.
"It is always great to spend July 4th with our troops. I appreciate all of their efforts and sacrifices. The CODEL also provided a great opportunity to learn about the most recent developments in Yemen. This is clearly an important location in the War on Terror," said Guthrie.
"Throughout this trip, I saw firsthand what our brave men and women in uniform are doing to train and equip counter-terrorism forces. In Slovakia and Georgia, we have a strong partnership with our friends that will endure. I saw in both of those nations great examples of countries that have risen from the ashes of the Soviet Union to be strong allies and great friends," said Kinzinger.
"In Yemen and Djibouti, our military is working hard to build their forces to be able to destroy al-Qaeda operating in the Arabian Peninsula and Africa, and to build local capacity to hunt and destroy these groups. Our military is succeeding well at both of these goals. This discovery mission reiterates that we are on track in our continuing efforts to defend our nation against any potential terrorist threats," Kinzinger added.
"This official visit helped me understand the threats to America coming from terrorist groups in Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula and gave me an opportunity to personally thank our troops who give up so much to protect our nation," said Farenthold.