Toomey in Afghanistan to Start Term - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Toomey in Afghanistan to Start Term

Toomey in Afghanistan in first big trip as senator



    Toomey in Afghanistan to Start Term
    Getty Images
    ALLENTOWN, PA - NOVEMBER 02: Republican Senator-elect Pat Toomey speaks at his victory party at the Holiday Inn November 2, 2010 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Toomey defeated Democratic candidate Joe Sestak to capture the Pennsylvania Senate seat. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Pat Toomey

    Pa. Sen. Pat Toomey is in Afghanistan with other U.S. senators barely two weeks after being sworn in.

    “The purpose of this trip was to become familiar with our efforts in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and to learn from our commanders on the field, our embassy officials and some of the people we are working with in these countries," Toomey said.

    Toomey spoke to reporters Monday by telephone from Kabul and said he had met with both U.S. Gen. David Petraeus and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in a three-day trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Toomey says Afghanistan continues to have serious economic and political challenges, as well as a Taliban insurgency within its own borders.  But he says he thinks the United States can achieve success in Afghanistan and have a dramatically reduced presence in the country by the time his six-year term ends.

    In a statement released by his U.S. Senate ofice, Toomey said:  “It is truly amazing what the American servicemen and women are doing in Afghanistan.  The caliber, the talent, the dedication and the ability of our troops are incredibly impressive, and there is no question that they are doing a terrific job and making tremendous progress.  The big challenge now, as we continue to clear the remaining difficult areas in Afghanistan, is making sure there is an actively trained Afghan army, police force and other governmental institutions to be able to sustain the progress we have made.”

    He says he told Karzai that his government needs to do more to combat pervasive corruption, although he described Karzai's reaction as a little bit defensive.

    Sen. Toomey left Washington, D.C. on Jan. 13 and will return to Pa. on Jan. 18.

    Republican Pat Toomey took the oath of office on Jan. 4, replacing long-time Pa. Senator Arlen Specter, a Democrat.