U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) returned late yesterday from leading a five-day congressional delegation (CODEL) trip to the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  U.S. Reps. Mac Thornberry (D-Texas), Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) and Mike Conaway (D-Texas) joined him on the trip.  Smith led the CODEL as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s terrorism panel.

“Our troops and foreign service officers work hard around the world to serve American interests and to fight the spread of terrorist networks and their ideology, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  This trip reinforced my conviction that this region of the world is the central front in our war against al-Qaida and we have under-resourced it because of other priorities.  This must change,” Smith said.

Smith organized the CODEL to provide House Armed Services Committee members with information regarding our special operations forces and their work to roll back al-Qaida and related groups in key theaters around the world.  Smith organized a counter-terrorism-related CODEL to the Pacific region earlier this year.  These trips provide Members of Congress with invaluable direct contact with in-country U.S. and allied personnel who can provide first-hand explanations of their needs and challenges.

The CODEL’s itinerary included stops in:

  • The United Kingdom.  The Members of Congress met with the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Robert H. Tuttle, the U.S. Country Team, and United Kingdom counter-terrorism officials and military personnel. 
  • Afghanistan.  Smith’s delegation met with U.S. Ambassador William B. Wood and members of the U.S. Country Team.  The delegation also met with General Dan K. McNeill, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force, and Abdul Raheem Wardak, the Minister of Defense for Afghanistan.  Other meetings also occurred with local business leaders, members of the U.S. special operations forces community, constituents serving in the region, as well as Canadian military officials stationed in Kandahar to discuss the activities of the local Provincial Reconstruction Team.
  • Pakistan. The CODEL met with U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson and members of the U.S. Country Team.  The CODEL also met with President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, and Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj, Director of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency.

“This trip gave our delegation insight into the challenges faced by U.S. personnel in theaters beyond Iraq that are essential to our national security.  I intend to put the lessons learned to use as the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee crafts our portion of the National Defense Authorization Act in the coming weeks,” Smith said.