U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, led a bipartisan congressional delegation, including Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), and Congressmen David Young (R-IA), Keith Rothfus (R-PA), and Rob Wittman (R-VA) to Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Iraq to thank U.S. servicemembers for their service and sacrifice ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The congressional delegation also met with senior military and diplomatic leaders in the region to receive updates on continued anti-terrorism efforts, including the fight against ISIS and the Taliban. 

Senator Ernst, a former company commander in the Iowa National Guard and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, visited with approximately 35 Iowa Army National Guard soldiers stationed at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan and others throughout the region.

As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, Senator Ernst has oversight over numerous commands and agencies within the Department of Defense, including Special Operations Command.

As such, she coordinated classified briefings in Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Iraq, so the delegation could hear directly from Special Operators and their chain of command about battlefield realities.

She also led diplomatic discussions regarding stability efforts concurrent with Operations Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Resolute Support in Afghanistan, and follow-on strategies. 

After Ernst’s visit, she made the following statement: “In this season of thanksgiving, it was an honor to visit with our Iowa soldiers who are away from their loved ones at the holidays, and to thank them for the sacrifices they make – and those of their families – to protect all that we hold dear,” said Senator Ernst. 

“Additionally, hearing more about their efforts to support, protect, and defend the United States and our international partners from those on the ground was invaluable, particularly as we work to enact the National Defense Authorization Act, which is critical to ensure our troops have the resources and equipment they need to combat the evolving global threats confronting America.”