Latham in Iraq with House GOP Leader

Iowa Congressman Tom Latham is/has been in Iraq.  His staff didn't alert the Iowa media, but House GOP Leader John Boehner's staff revealed on Friday afternoon that Latham is/was on the trip.  Here's the news release from Boehner's office:

Boehner Leads Congressional Trip to Iraq to See Progress Under Petraeus-Odierno Strategy Firsthand

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) was in Iraq today, leading a six-member congressional delegation to the country.  The trip comes just a week after provincial elections were held successfully and without significant violence.  Boehner issued the following statement on the delegation visit:

“American troops have made remarkable progress in Iraq under the leadership of General Petraeus and General Odierno and our delegation was eager to witness this progress firsthand, particularly after the recent provincial elections.  As more of our troops return home and the Iraqi government assumes more control of its country, the progress is undeniable and I commend the resolve, commitment and sacrifice shown by our military forces each and every day. 

“Even with our success, there is much more work to be done.  As General Odierno and Ambassador Crocker reminded us, we have made significant progress but the gains created by the surge and the political reconciliation process are fragile and reversible.   As stability in the region increases, it is imperative that officials in Washington listen to our commanders on the ground on how best to complete our mission while also ensuring the safety and success of our military forces.  Our troops in Iraq are returning home after victory rather than defeat, and they deserve to have every tool they need to successfully finish the job.  As many of our troops are deployed to Afghanistan, it must not come at the cost of the hard-fought success and stability that has been gained in Iraq.”

NOTE:  Joining Boehner on the delegation visit are Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), Armed Services Committee Ranking Republican John McHugh (R-NY), Intelligence Committee Ranking Republican Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), and Reps. Tom Latham (R-IA) and Jo Bonner (R-AL).  While in Iraq, the delegation met with President Jalal Talabani, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, and current Commanding General of Multi National Force-Iraq, Raymond Odierno, in addition to Major General John Kelly (USMC) and Lieutenant General Lloyd Austin (U.S. Army).    

UPDATE on 2/8/9:  Latham visted Afghanistan, too.  Here's the latest release from his congressional office.

Latham Concludes Trip Abroad with Visit to Afghanistan
Calls on Washington to Provide Needed Resources for America’s Troops
Kabul, Afghanistan –  Iowa Congressman Tom Latham concluded a two-day visit to Afghanistan Sunday as renewed attention is focused on Afghanistan and the additional American troops expected to be deployed there in the coming months.  The trip was part of a continuing six-member congressional delegation trip that began in Iraq three days ago.

“The trip allowed me to get a first-hand assessment of how American troops are doing in the War on Terror in Afghanistan.  I was also very grateful to talk directly with some of the American leaders on the ground with their perspective on the obstacles and opportunities we face there."

"It will come as no surprise that there are great challenges that remain in Afghanistan such as in the south and southwestern parts.  This is a critical time for leaders in Washington to work together with the commanders on the ground to provide all the resources needed by American troops to safely and successfully complete their mission in victory.”

Latham’s visit was part of a delegation that included Congressmen John Boehner (OH), Eric Cantor (VA), John McHugh (NY), Pete Hoekstra (MI), and Jo Bonner (AL).  During the two-day visit the delegation was briefed by U.S. Ambassador William Wood and General David McKiernan, the head of both U.S. Forces in the country and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, the coalition of 39 nations with a presence in Afghanistan.  The Members also visited Camp Bastion in the Helmand Province of Southern Afghanistan, where they met Provincial Governor Gulab Mangal and discussed his efforts to fight government corruption, combat the rampant opium drug trade, and improve local government services for its people.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.