Ernst Leads Congressional Delegation to Visit Troops and Engage with Military and Diplomatic Leaders in Middle East

Ernst, Peters, Young, Rothfus & Wittman Express Gratitude to Servicemembers Ahead of Thanksgiving

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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 their visit, the senators and congressmen made the following statements:

“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.”

“Michigan servicemembers and their families sacrifice so much in defense of our nation and our way of life - missing milestones in their childrens’ lives and spending their holidays thousands of miles away from home,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. “I couldn’t be more honored to personally thank our men and women stationed abroad for their service. America's military is the strongest in the world because of their valor and dedication.”

“The women and men in our military are the bravest among us. It was an honor to meet with service members from Iowa, hear their stories and collect messages to send back to their loved ones,” said Congressman Young. “Hearing from Iowans in our military and leaders on the ground about the successes, challenges, and needs of our troops provides me with greater insight as we address issues affecting our military and national security in Congress.”

“It was an honor to meet with our Pennsylvanian service members who are away from their loved ones during this holiday season. In this time of thanksgiving, I am grateful for these courageous men and women -- and their families -- for their selfless sacrifices to protect our country,” said Congressman Rothfus.

“At this time of year, we all want to be close with family. However, our men and women in uniform are often not afforded that opportunity,” said Congressman Wittman. “It was an honor to meet with the brave individuals who are currently serving our country in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait. Each time I visit this area of the world, I learn more about ways that Congress can be more effective. It is important to see first-hand what our forces need in order to be their voice back in Washington. We face a wide array of threats around the globe and we must provide the authorities and resources for our men and women of the Armed Forces to do the job we've asked them to do.”

Senator Ernst leads congressional delegation, and visits with Iowa Army National Guard soldiers, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.


Senator Peters meets with Michigan servicemembers in Afghanistan.


Congressman Young meets with members of the military as part of a Congressional Delegation to Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Iraq.


Congressman Rothfus visits with Pennsylvania service members Hope Bunce, Brian Faust, and Edmund Willis.


Congressman Wittman visits with soldiers and leaders of the Aviation Task Force in Kandahar, Afghanistan.