Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA08) returned Tuesday from a five-day Congressional Delegation Visit, which included stops in Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The delegation was led by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA25).
The delegation visit included official discussions with high-ranking government officials regarding political, economic, and security issues affecting bilateral and regional relationships in Afghanistan and UAE.
Cook stated, "The most important thing for me was to get out there and view the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. I wanted to talk to the troops so I could hear from them and know their assessment of the situation."
The trip included a briefing with General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. A four-star general in the United States Marine Corps, Dunford is the current commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan. He assumed command on February 10.
Cook also met with Major General Mohammad Zaman Waziri, Afghanistan National Army Commander. Waziri will continue to oversee more of the ground operations, as our troops continue withdrawal.
Cook stated, "The safety of our troops is always a top priority for me, as it was when I was in the Marine Corps. There is no such thing as complete safety, but I came away absolutely impressed by the progress and dedication of our armed forces in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, this news doesn't always reach the home front, and that's really a huge disservice to these brave men and women. I walked away confident of our military leadership in there, and I'm optimistic about a smooth transition as US troops continue to draw down."
The delegation also had an opportunity to meet with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Cook commented after the meeting that the Crown Prince "continues to be one of our best allies in the region."
A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Cook was joined by both McKeon and Rep. Hunter (R-CA50) as part of the delegation. Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the US Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.