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U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman arrives home after visit to Afghanistan, Middle East with congressional delegation

Author: Ernest Luning - December 28, 2017 - Updated: December 28, 2017

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman speaks with a service member shortly after landing in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, on a congressional delegation trip to the country. (Photo courtesy Coffman's congressional office)U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman speaks with a service member shortly after landing in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, on a congressional delegation trip to the country. (Photo courtesy Coffman’s congressional office)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman returned to Colorado Thursday after a six-day congressional delegation trip to Afghanistan and the Middle East that spanned the Christmas holiday and included security briefings and meals with service members.

“It was an honor for me to spend Christmas with our men and women in uniform, and to meet diplomatic staff deployed in the region” said Coffman, an Army and Marine Corps veteran and the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Military Personnel Subcommittee. “Any opportunity I have to thank those serving on the front lines for their sacrifices and service to our nation is an opportunity I cherish. Additionally, hearing first-hand from our commanders and regional allies is crucial when crafting policy back in Washington.”

The bipartisan trip, first reported by Colorado Politics, also included House Foreign Affairs Committee members U.S. Reps. Lee Zeldin, a New York Republican, David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican. The lawmakers departed on Dec. 23, spent two days in Afghanistan, a day in Kuwait and a day in Jordan before heading home.

The delegation arrived in Kabul on Dec. 24, Coffman’s office said in a release, and received a classified briefing on U.S. military operations in the area before joining John Bass, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, at his residence for dinner. On Christmas morning, Coffman met with Colorado service members for breakfast and conferred with Commander General John Nicholson Jr., support commander for the U.S. operation.

The delegation later visited Forward Operating Base Fenty and served Christmas lunch to service members at Forward Operating Base Gambrel.  service members at FOB Gamberi.

The next day, after traveling to Kuwait, Coffman and the U.S. ambassador to Kuwait, Lawrence Silverman, met with that country’s minister of foreign affairs, Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah, and minister of defense, Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, in Kuwait City to discuss security matters. Later, Coffman ate lunch with Colorado service members at Camp Arifjan and met with U.S. military leaders. He received a briefing on the work of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force at Al Jaber Air Base and after that joined Marines stationed there for dinner.

The delegation traveled to Jordan the next day and met with diplomatic personnel at the U.S. embassy in Amman. They later visited Syrian refugees at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and met its acting representative, Daniela Cicchella. Coffman also toured the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center and the Joint Training Center in Zarqa, Jordan.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.