U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) are continuing their trip to the Middle East with a Senate delegation that includes Senator John McCain (R-AZ). After visiting with troops, military leaders, and foreign officials in Afghanistan, Blumenthal and Whitehouse released the following statement:
"We are proud and honored to thank our courageous troops for their great service and sacrifice -- especially men and women from Connecticut and Rhode Island. We are pleased that the drawdown of American troops will be accomplished at an accelerated pace, so that the Afghan forces can take over the lead combat role by this spring, as agreed by Presidents Obama and Karzai at their meeting last week. Our discussion with President Karzai during our dinner convinces us that the Afghans are determined to make this significant step successful. The number of American troops remaining after 2014, if any, will depend on the mission and strategy, which we will continue discussing with colleagues and Administration officials."
While in Afghanistan, they met with President Hamid Karzai, U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham, General John Allen, the commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, and with Afghan Army commanders in eastern Afghanistan. They also met with troops serving in Afghanistan from Rhode Island and Connecticut.
This was Blumenthal's third trip to Afghanistan as a Senator, and Whitehouse's sixth visit. The Senators visited Egypt earlier this week, and will continue traveling in the region through Saturday.
High-Res photographs from the trip can be accessed online here: