Hoeven, Senate Delegation Meet With Afghan Pres. Hamid Karzai, Gen. David Petraeus, Ambassador Eikenberry in Kabul

KABUL – Senator John Hoeven and a delegation of U.S. senators led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell this week met in Kabul, Afghanistan with Afghan President Hamid Karzai; Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan General David Petraeus; U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry; and other top government and military leaders to discuss the progress of the war in Afghanistan. 

Both General Petraeus and Ambassador Eikenberry indicated clearly in their briefings that the objective in Afghanistan is to build Afghan forces to a level where they can secure and govern themselves. The current timeline calls for the drawdown of U.S. and NATO troops between the summer of 2011 and 2014, based on conditions on the ground. Following the briefing, Senator Hoeven had opportunity to meet with President Karzai to discuss this timeline and the president expressed his commitment to achieving it.  

Hoeven also had an opportunity to discuss the challenges in the provinces with members of the Afghan Parliament. One member whose province borders Iran described Iranian incursions across the border and the response of local Afghanis to defend their territory. Others spoke about their efforts to reform their political system and government. 

In addition, Hoeven reviewed the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC) outside the city, where he met with U.S. soldiers, including native North Dakotans. The Senator thanked them for their service and sacrifices on behalf of our country. The Center’s mission is to recruit, equip, and train the Afghan National Army. 

The Senator also visited with U.S. and Afghan troops at the Kabul Military Training Center's Literacy Village, home of the Afghan National Army's "flagship training center,” where native troops are receiving literacy training. With only 14 percent of the Afghan Army recruits being literate, the 64 hours of mandatory literacy instruction are making a dramatic difference in the professionalization of the Afghan Army and are empowering young Afghan Army Soldiers with the ability to do basic reading, writing and arithmetic, abilities that were denied to them by the Taliban. As part of their tour of the training center, the delegation also participated in a demonstration by the Afghans of a series of artillery crew drills and spoke with newly trained Afghan Army officers and soldiers.

Hoeven was escorted during the visit by Lt. Col. Shawn Stroud, a North Dakota native raised in Minot and Fargo. Lt. Col. Stroud’s family still lives in the Fargo-Moorhead area where he was serving as the Professor of Military Science at North Dakota State University.  He currently serves as the Communication Director for Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, Commander of the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan.  In the course of the visit, Hoeven also met First Sergeant Kori Kvalevog of Devils Lake, who is assigned as the senior non-commissioned officer of Company B of 3-4 Infantry.

“Our troops are doing an outstanding job on a difficult mission, and we want to do all we can to support them,” Hoeven said. “We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude for all they’re doing on behalf of our nation.” 

The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, led by General Petraeus, is a coalition of countries under NATO command that is working to help the Afghan people establish a framework for the democratic rule of law. ISAF Provincial Teams are aiding Afghan authorities to strengthen institutions that will establish good governance and rule of law in the countryside.  

            Hoeven, who is traveling with an official congressional mission led by U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, will be returning to the United States by the end of the week and will be in North Dakota next week.