Posted 11 months ago
By John Axtell
Deb Fischer of Nebraska and John Barrasso of Wyoming visited Afghanistan and Israel over the weekend a part of a delegation of Republican senators led by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
McConnell…also accompanied by Jeff Flake of Arizona and Ted Cruz of Texas…says he left the country with a genuine sense of optimism about Afghanistan, and favors leaving a residual force of about 10,000 U-S forces after combat troops leave next year.
The group met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem to discuss political and security challenges facing the Middle East, and in Afghanistan with political leaders and top military commanders including General John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force.
The lawmakers also met with deployed service-members from their home states. Senator Fischer says she was honored to have the chance to meet them, shake their hands, look them in the eyes, and thank them – on behalf of all Nebraskans – for their hard work and sacrifice.”
Fischer also told the Omaha World-Herald in a Monday interview from an air base in Italy that the trip has left her much more optimistic about whether President Obama’s planned withdrawal of U-S ground forces next year can be met.
She said the message from Afghan, U-S, and coalition force leaders was positive…that Afghan troops are going to be ready to take over and monitor the situation there in their country when the United States and the international forces leave.
Fischer isn’t so sure about the president’s plan to speed up more of the withdrawal into this year, saying that might be a little fast. She also questioned talk of not leaving any residual U-S forces behind, and stressed the need to give military commanders flexibility.
Fischer’s a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and said U.S. military plans for Afghanistan will be a key topic during former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel confirmation hearing as Secretary of Defense.
Hagel campaigned against her and for Democrat Bob Kerrey in November, but Fischer has promised to give him open and fair consideration during the confirmation process.
Fischer’s trip to Afghanistan and Israel capped an exciting second weekend as a U-S Senator. She also recorded the GOP’s response to the president’s weekly radio speech…saying that “the debate over taxes and revenues is done” and that it’s “time for serious action” on cutting federal spending.
Fischer predicted that Congress will reject the president upcoming request to increase the nation’s debt limit again unless it comes with major spending cuts…saying that reducing spending is why Nebraskans sent her to Washington and calling it “what the American people demand…and what our children and grandchildren deserve.”