During coming Congressional debates about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan Rep Mark Kirk's (R-IL) words should (but alas probably won't!) carry extra weight. He has walked the walk, talked the talk as he serves his country in the reserves..
While most members of Congress spent their winter break on "fact finding" missions or meeting with their constituents back home Kirk, returning to Washington yesterday to be sworn in with others for the next session of Congress, will have some interesting stories to share with his colleagues about his vacation--serving with the Naval Reserves in Afghanistan. He is the only member of Congress still on active duty in the military reserves, in his case an 18 year member of the Naval Reserves with the rank of Commander.
it is important for an increasing NATO force to help develop and strengthen the Afghanistan army and police "so we can leave."
He also said the success of the upcoming democratic election in Afghanistan is key. All of the candidates "are anti-drug and anti-Taliban," he said.
Kirk and Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., are the only members of Congress to have served in Afghanistan.
"It was an honor to serve with the uniformed Americans in Afghanistan that I admire," Kirk said. "I learned a great deal about the challenges Americans and our NATO allies face in central Asia."
Kirk's experience should also reassure those, such as former vice president Al Gore, who worry about the effects of global warming on Afghanistan; indeed the citizens there might wish it would happen.
Kirk joked that he was surprised to hear people complaining about the cold in the Chicago area upon his return.
"I was more cold there than I've ever been," he said. "In the mountains, the cold gets into your marrow."