Jefferson City – Gov. Jay Nixon arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday (Sept. 27) as part of a delegation of four U.S. Governors that included Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Tennessee Gov. William Haslam. This is the fourth trip to Afghanistan for Gov. Nixon, who is one of the original members of the Council of Governors, formed in 2010 to address matters pertaining to the National Guard and homeland security.
On Friday (Sept. 26), the Governors were briefed at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington DC, before flying to Ramstein Air Base in Germany. At Ramstein on Saturday, they visited with military patients being treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center before traveling on to Kabul, Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan today, Gov. Nixon and the other Governors met with the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, James Cunningham, before going to Bagram Airfield. At Bagram, they met with Commanding Generals, including Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and United States Forces – Afghanistan (USFOR-A). The Governors also were briefed on deconstruction operations being carried out in Afghanistan by the U.S. military.
“As America turns over security to our Afghan partners, our military continues to carry out its mission with the same degree of courage and professionalism it has always had,” Gov. Nixon said. “The briefings and meetings with top commanders have given me additional perspective on current and emerging national security matters, and will be helpful in my work on the Council of Governors.”
As he has done on his previous trips, Gov. Nixon also met on Sunday with troops from Missouri currently deployed to Afghanistan.
Two Missouri National Guard units currently are deployed to Afghanistan and are engaged in deconstruction operations: the 220th Engineer Company, based in Festus, and the 276th Engineer Company, based in Pierce City/Springfield. There are approximately 300 Citizen-Soldiers deployed in those units. The Governor praised their efforts, and those of other Missouri National Guard units that have been deployed overseas.
“I can’t say enough about the tremendous work the Missouri National Guard has done as part of our military efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries,” Gov. Nixon said. “These brave men and women represent the selflessness and sacrifice that have always been hallmarks of our Guard, with more than 20,000 individual deployments overseas since 9/11 – and more than 1,150 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen have done two or more deployments. I want to thank them for serving bravely on our behalf, and also thank the families back home who waited with hope, prayer and patience during those deployments.”
As the military mission in Afghanistan winds down, Gov. Nixon said, the Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen of the Missouri National Guard have played an instrumental role in fighting terror and protecting our nation overseas. That role has included searching for and destroying IEDs, driving and escorting military convoys, flying and maintaining military aircraft, and helping Afghans achieve greater self-sufficiency through the Agri-business Development Teams.
The Governor is scheduled to return to Missouri on Monday (Sept. 29).
(courtesy of Governor Jay Nixon's Office)