Biggert Visits the Troops in Afghanistan
All-Female Delegation Meets with Afghan Women and Female Soldiers
U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13th) today returned from a trip to Afghanistan, where she met with U.S. troops and commanders, as well as top Afghan civic and government leaders. The all-women congressional delegation trip was organized to allow female U.S. lawmakers to assess the economic, political, and security developments in that region, as well as progress on the front of women's rights. Participants are returning as Congress prepares to vote this week on the supplemental military spending request proposed by President Obama.
"Our troops in Afghanistan are accomplishing some amazing things despite immense challenges," said Biggert. "But it's an ongoing mission, and there is still a strong insurgency, especially along the Pakistani boarder, working to turn the region back into a staging ground for attacks on American soil. I'm ready to work with the President to ensure that our troops in harm's way have the support they need to accomplish their mission as safely and quickly as possible."
Biggert's visit included meetings with troops in the field and top commanders, including Gen. David McKiernan, who it was later announced will be replaced by Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. She also met with representatives of the U.S. embassy, the Afghan Ministry of Defense, female members of parliament, and women civic leaders like Dr. Sima Samar, Chairwoman of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. In addition, she held discussions with provincial women from Sabul in the Herat province, site of a recently established school for girls. In the Sabul area, female illiteracy rates range between 95 and 98 percent.
"The Afghan women have persevered through centuries of oppression, and we don't want to see the clock turned back," said Biggert, who has worked personally with Afghan women for several years. She also is an original cosponsor of legislation, H. Con. Res. 108, denouncing a new Afghan law that would legalize marital rape and prohibit a woman from leaving her home without the approval of her husband. "This law exposes women to cruel and demeaning treatment. It has no place in any society. The women of Afghanistan deserve to know that their daughters will grow up in a culture of dignity, security, and basic freedoms."
Biggert also held a special roundtable discussion with female U.S. troops, and she had an opportunity to award nine service medals to members of the Illinois National Guard who had shown exceptional bravery. She also met with Afghan female students and girls who will grow up to be among the first generations of Afghan female leaders.
"This mission was always about keeping Americans safe from another attack like 9-11, but we are accomplishing so much more in the process, "said Biggert. "And we can't forget that it's not just a military endeavor. We have to build deep, lasting relationships with the people of Afghanistan in order to have a strong, stable ally in the Greater Middle East that will be a force for peace."
Other stops on the trip included diplomatic missions to Tbilisi, Georgia and Prague in the Czech Republic to build on cooperative relationships with those European nations. In Georgia, Biggert met with President Mikheil Saakashvili. In the Czech Republic, Biggert was briefed by political and military leaders at the U.S. embassy.