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Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I am here today to express my sincere appreciation and thanks and admiration to a number of our distinguished Foreign Service officers who were similarly lauded by Senator McCain earlier today. I heard his remarks, and I wish to be associated with them.
I wish to express my thanks to three very brave and able men who have served this country under the most demanding and difficult conditions, requiring huge personal courage as well as insight and strong action. They are Ryan Crocker, who has served as Ambassador to Afghanistan; his deputy who will replace him shortly, James Cunningham; and our Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter. What they share and what they have given us in these two critical posts is the best of our Nation's public service and foreign service.
I had occasion to meet both Ambassador Crocker and Ambassador Cunningham on a number of visits to Afghanistan and to be briefed by both of them, so I know personally how extraordinarily honest and forthright they are in the insight and intelligence they give to congressional visitors. And many of us have been among those visitors and
many of us have met with them, so I know others have had that experience as well. I know them both to be extremely capable and intelligent, thoughtful, and insightful. They understand the complexities of this region, and they have succeeded in maintaining strong relationships with our partners in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the extent they were able to do so amid the most complex and challenging circumstances.
Somehow, in between all of the challenges they faced on the ground day to day, they also welcomed congressional visitors with extraordinary grace and graciousness and generosity. I was proud to be one of them in visiting both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
I wish to recognize particularly the efforts of Ambassador Munter in addressing the supply chain of IED--improvised explosive device--ingredients, the fertilizer and other chemicals that compose the roadside bombs that have literally caused more than half of our Nation's casualties in Afghanistan. Those ingredients are smuggled, sometimes in broad daylight, across the border from Pakistan. He has worked hard and made a valuable contribution in challenging the Government of Pakistan to do better, and to confront the threat and to ensure interagency coordination between the Department of State and the Department of Defense in confronting and attacking the IED network. He has written to me personally, and I thank him for his commitment to a cause that others have also made a priority, including Dr. Ashton Carter, presently Deputy Secretary of Defense. Together, we worked on this issue and made progress, but so much more must be done to stop the flow of IED bomb-making material across the border which does such horrific, destructive damage to our troops. One need only visit the Bethesda Naval Center to see it firsthand. Our hearts go out to the young men--principally men--and women and their families who are victims of these bombs. Thank you to Ambassador Munter for making it a priority.
I thank Ambassador Crocker likewise for working on this problem as he led the Embassy in Kabul through profoundly and deeply challenging times. When we here in Washington revise our policy toward Afghanistan and as we go through those revisions now, he has adopted and he has carried out policies, and he has served well our national interests, even in the midst of change and challenge.
I welcome Deputy Ambassador Cunningham to his new post. I have worked and been briefed by him. I, in fact, stayed with him in the Embassy. I have seen his keen insight, his quiet, understated manner, and his strength and will.
Indeed, all of these men are men of intellect, but they are also men of action, committed to delivering results to the Nation. They are men of loyalty and courage.
I will just finish on this note. Nobody should underestimate the courage that is required to serve in these positions. Anyone who has visited these countries knows the threat of physical danger is ever-present not only to the brave men and women who serve in uniform in our Armed Forces but to our diplomats who every day put their lives on the line to serve us. So I thank not only them but the thousands of men and women who have served with them in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, and in other countries, at postings in places whose names most Americans can barely pronounce. They have demonstrated the kind of bravery that Ambassadors Crocker, Munter, and Cunningham have every day. They deserve our thanks and our good wishes as they leave their present posts--as Ambassador Crocker retires--and our good wishes for continued success for the sake of their lives and for the sake of our Nation.
I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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