Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Rep. Case thinks
force reduction
is a year away

On a trip to Pakistan
and Afghanistan, he
visits with isle troops

American forces will need to remain in Afghanistan for more than a year, U.S. Rep. Ed Case predicted after spending three days in the region.

"I think a significant reduction in troops is going to take one year plus," Case, D-Hawaii, said yesterday in a conference call from Islamabad, Pakistan. "Afghanistan remains a dangerous place facing major challenges."

Case, who represents rural Oahu and the neighbor islands, traveled to Pakistan on Sunday. Also on the congressional trip was U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. The pair traveled to Kabul on Monday to visit with U.S., British and Afghan officials.

Yesterday they traveled to Kandahar.

Case also met with 60 members of the Hawaii Army National Guard's B Company, 193rd Aviation, who are stationed in Kandahar.

"The local kids looked great, and I am incredibly proud of them.

"We got off the helicopter at Kandahar airfield and as I was walking back there was a Hawaii flag flying next to the American flag.

"It was a nice, tight group; they are planning a Thanksgiving luau," Case said, adding that he brought along some Hawaii snacks, iso peanut crackers and crackseed.

"I will try to do whatever we can to support the effort and support these great troops," Case said.

In discussions with Maj. Gen. Eric Olson, commander of the 25th Infantry Division, Case said the benefit of the training in Hawaii was a big help.

"The training the 25th did allowed them to hit the ground running and has saved soldiers' lives," Case said Olson noted.

"They already knew how to operate their helicopters at high altitude in difficult terrain," Case said.

Case is expected to return to Hawaii tomorrow.

Hawaii Army National Guard
Rep. Ed Case


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