Casey Requests GAO Report on Visa Delays Hindering Fight Against Roadside Bombs

Recent Casey-Requested Report Found that Pakistan is Delaying Visas for U.S. Personnel

Delays Slowing Crackdown on Biggest Killer of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan 

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today requested a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the delay of visas for U.S. personnel traveling to Pakistan. Senator Casey’s request comes after a GAO report he requested identified the delays as a hindrance to efforts to combat roadside bombs, or improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are the largest killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

“The delays facing U.S. personnel who are working to protect our troops are unacceptable, and we need to determine the scope of the problem and ways to mitigate its impact,” said Senator Casey.  “Pennsylvania’s troops and their families have made extraordinary sacrifices in the interest of the safety and security of us all, so we have an obligation to ensure that efforts to combat IEDs are as focused and rapid as possible.”

In a letter to GAO Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro, Senator Casey requested that GAO investigate:

  • What is known about the extent to which U.S. officials face delays in obtaining visas to travel to Pakistan to provide training?
  • What are the implications for U.S. assistance of any visa delays?
  • What steps, if any, have U.S. agencies taken or are needed to mitigate the impact of visa delays?

Senator Casey, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, has led the effort in the Senate to protect our troops from roadside bombs. Last summer he traveled to Pakistan to push officials to implement a plan to regulate bomb making materials and prevent their flow into Afghanistan, and he recently supported passage of an amendment that would prevent some foreign aid from going to Pakistan until the Department of State certifies that the Pakistani government is implementing a strategy to counter IEDs.

Senator Casey’s letter to Comptroller General Dodaro is below:

Mr. Gene Dodaro

Comptroller General of the United States

U.S. Government Accountability Office

441 G Street, NW

Washington, D.C.  20548

Dear Mr. Dodaro:

Since 2001, Pakistan has been an important ally in the fight against al Qaeda and, consequently, a recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. civilian and military assistance.  Much of this assistance has been in the form of training for Pakistani officials.  This has either entailed U.S. trainers traveling to Pakistan to deliver training, or sending Pakistani officials to the United States to receive training.  As GAO has previously reported, many U.S. agencies, including the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice play a role in training and providing technical assistance to Pakistani officials. 

GAO and others, however, have found that U.S. officials often encounter delays in obtaining visas to travel to Pakistan to deliver training and oversee U.S. assistance programs for Pakistani officials.  This limits the effectiveness of U.S. assistance by delaying or cancelling training courses designed to improve Pakistan’s ability to address the threat posed by extremist groups.  As a result, I would like GAO to conduct a review of the extent and implications of delays in visas related to training Pakistani officials.  Specifically, I would like GAO to investigate:

  • What is known about the extent to which U.S. officials face delays in obtaining visas to travel to Pakistan to provide training?
  • What are the implications for U.S. assistance of any visa delays?
  • What steps, if any, have U.S. agencies taken or are needed to mitigate the impact of visa delays?

Thank you for your prompt attention to this important issue. 

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

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