Congressman Dave Loebsack has just returned from a quick trip to Afghanistan. "What I learned is the extent of the Taliban’s presence in Afghanistan and even some foreign fighter presense in Afghanistan is greater even than I thought was the case," Loebsack says. "And the necessity for sending more resources to Afghanistan was really brought home to me by being on the ground there and talking to folks there and talking to the generals and some of our political officials as well."
Loebsack, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, is among those calling for re-deployment of some troops from Iraq to Afghanistan and he supports the Bush Administration’s plan to send 3200 Marines into Afghanstan over the next couple of months. "We’ve got to renew our commitment to Afghanistan and provide the resources necessary," Loebsack says.
Non-military spending is crucial, too, according to Loebsack who says "considerable" U.S. aid is being sent to Afghanistan. "I visited two provincial reconstruction teams in two different provinces — one run by the Turks and one run by us and they’re doing very good work," Loebsack says. "It remains to be seen just how far all this assistance is going to go because we’ve really got to stabilize the situation and that’s a really big problem right now."
The opium trade has been revived in Afghanistan and Loebsack says about 10 percent of Afghanistan’s population is involved in cultivation of poppies, the source of opium. Loebsack says generals on the ground also said they’re seeing a "huge" increase in the number of roadside bombs in Afghanistan.
Loebsack is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and that’s why he was on this trip to Afghanistan. Loebsack was unable to connect with Iowans serving on active duty in Afghanistan. About 50 members of the Iwoa National Guard are currently in Afghanistan, according to Loebsack, and they’re spread out all over the country.