WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, led a congressional delegation trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan between August 23 and August 30 to press government officials in the region to implement a strategy to restrict the flow of ingredients used to make roadside bombs, the biggest killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Senator Casey also met with military leaders and Pennsylvania servicemembers in Afghanistan to thank them for their service and discuss the situation on the ground in the fight to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a haven for terrorism.
“I was deeply impressed by the commitment and sacrifice of our troops in Afghanistan,” said Senator Casey. “Significant challenges remain, particularly in dealing with the corrosive effects of corruption and in fielding a fully functional Afghan national security force. I hope to see continued development of the Afghan forces and believe that significant improvements must be made in Afghan governance in order to alleviate the war’s burden on our troops, their families and American taxpayers.”
“Success in Afghanistan will be extremely difficult without the cooperation of Pakistan,” Senator Casey continued. “We need to see far more cooperation from the Pakistanis on critical issues including stemming the flow of calcium ammonium nitrate and other harmful ingredients into Afghanistan where they are used in bombs to kill U.S. troops. Pakistan has developed a plan to counter these bombs, but the proof will be in its implementation. It is important that we continue to rebuild this strategic partnership with Pakistan in order to support our fight against extremist groups and our mission in Afghanistan.”
In Afghanistan, Senator Casey met with and thanked servicemembers from Pennsylvania at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, a forward operating base in Kandahar province and the Regional Command East headquarters.
In Pakistan, Senator Casey met with the President, Prime Minister, Army Chief of Staff, legislators and other officials to press them to implement a plan to establish tight restrictions on ingredients found in bombs which kill and injure our troops in Afghanistan.
This was Senator Casey’s third trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was joined on the trip by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
In 2010, 268 U.S. servicemembers were killed by IEDs in Afghanistan. 125 U.S. servicemembers have been killed by IEDs since the beginning of 2011. Of the 15 Pennsylvania servicemembers killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011, 10 were killed by IEDs.
Senator Casey has led the way in the Senate to increase international pressure to stop the flow of calcium ammonium nitrate into Afghanistan and protect our troops. Senator Casey has pushed the Department of Defense to increase coordination and end unnecessary duplication in efforts to counter IEDs.
Last November, Senator Casey chaired a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee focused on impeding the flow of calcium ammonium nitrate fertilizer in South and Central Asia. The Senate has also passed a bipartisan resolution introduced by Senator Casey calling for increased support to combat the flow of calcium ammonium nitrate.