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Senator Lankford Provides Oversight of US Operations in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, DC –Senator James Lankford (R-OK) provided the following statement today after he returned from a congressional delegation trip to Afghanistan (Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif, and Kandahar) to conduct oversight of ongoing US operations on the ground. Lankford traveled with the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Richard Burr (R-NC), and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).

“This oversight trip was a great opportunity to directly see the ongoing operations in Afghanistan to work toward peaceful reconciliation in the government and to combat terrorist cells in the region,” said Lankford. “It’s important for Congress—and Intelligence Committee members in particular—to conduct oversight of our operations in Afghanistan and express the gratitude of the nation for the incredible work of the men and women serving there.

“It was an honor to represent Oklahoma families and personally thank the men and women serving in Afghanistan this Christmas season.  Their mission has real significance for the stability of the region and the security of the US. We cannot thank them enough for their daily sacrifice.  Meeting Americans on the ground in Afghanistan is essential to understanding how far we have come since 2001 and how many major achievements they have completed. 

“For almost two decades, the United States has shown our resolve to not allow Afghanistan to be a safe place again for terrorists. We should continue to encourage reconciliation between the tribal and ideological factions in Afghanistan so they can defend themselves from international terror organizations who exploit open land and an impoverished people to carry out their evil mission.  The US has led a coalition to confront lethal terrorists and equip Afghans to defend their own families. The majority of the fighting in Afghanistan is now rightfully led by Afghans. 

“Just like the US has a long-term base agreement with Honduras to confront narco-terrorists in Central America, we should maintain a long-term presence in Afghanistan to confront terrorists in that region.  We have accomplished the critical goals in Afghanistan, but we should not pretend that ISIS, al Qaeda, and other terror organizations have simply given up their quest to kill Americans and destroy our culture. The past several days were a reminder that our own national defense mandates the critical mission in Afghanistan

“The war in Afghanistan is not about controlling territory or occupying a nation; America has always been a nation that sets other people free. While we encourage peace talks and a cease fire, we should also work toward a long-term agreement that transitions even more responsibility for national defense to the Afghan government, while maintaining an American presence in the region to defend our own interests.”