Banks Leads Bipartisan Congressional Delegation Trip to Afghanistan
Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and an Afghanistan War veteran, returned today from Afghanistan. Banks led a bipartisan congressional delegation trip to the country to examine the current security situation and meet with U.S. personnel.
Banks deployed to Afghanistan in 2014-2015 during Operations Enduring Freedom and Freedom’s Sentinel, and this was his first time back in the country since his deployment. He was joined on the trip by Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Darren Soto (D-FL), Conor Lamb (D-PA), Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Bill Flores (R-TX).
Banks issued the following statement about the trip:
“After visiting troops and leaders on the ground in Afghanistan, I'm convinced that our efforts there are as important as ever. While much has changed since I first deployed four years ago, too much remains the same. It’s clear to me that the security situation has deteriorated even further since I deployed there and the threats have evolved, with the emerging threat of ISIS-K and the Taliban taking footholds in new parts of country since the failed Obama strategy of drawdown five years ago.
“Our ongoing efforts in Afghanistan are necessary to ensure another 9/11 does not occur. I remain committed to supporting these efforts and to seeing a successful conclusion to America’s longest war.
“Right now, there is sense of optimism and belief that reconciliation is within reach. This gives hope to many as the recent ceasefire in Afghanistan was evidence of some progress. Whether peace with Taliban is realistic or not, it is clear that the mission in Afghanistan of protecting the homeland persists with the rising threat of ISIS-K and other groups who pose serious and imminent threats to Americans.
“While I’ve been agnostic on recent criticisms of President Trump for not visiting our troops, I do believe it would be helpful to him to better understand the evolving threats in Afghanistan if he saw the situation firsthand. I am encouraged that he indicated yesterday he plans to visit a war zone soon.
“I also repeat my earlier call for the Trump Administration to provide a progress report to the American people about our efforts in Afghanistan. It’s been over a year since the Administration announced its South Asia Strategy, and the public deserves to know if this strategy is working and why our ongoing investment there is important. Either a visit by the President or a presidential address could go a long way to giving much-needed clarity.
“As we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, let’s not forget the many who are serving abroad in dangerous places so that we may remain free. I recall this being a particularly tough holiday to be away from family. Today I remain as grateful as ever for those who serve.”