Monday, March 13, 2017 WEBSITE | FORWARD TO A FRIEND | SHARE ON:
Friend –
During the last week in February, I traveled through the Middle East on assignment with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. While most of our time as Members of Congress is spent making policy, it’s important that policy is based on real-world knowledge. That’s why it’s so critical that we get out on the frontlines, engage with regional leaders, and see firsthand the implementation and execution of our strategic national security objectives.
While some of what we discussed and engaged in during our assignment remains classified, I wanted to share a few brief highlights from the trip with you:
Our first stop was Egypt, where we engaged in discussions with our Embassy in Cairo about strengthening the bilateral Egypt-United States relationship. Egypt remains a valuable strategic partner in the region and in the fight against ISIS.

We also visited Mosul, Iraq, where this past October, Iraqi forces, backed by the United States, launched a military operation to retake the city.

While there, we were able to inspect the Mosul Dam with project engineers. ISIS's previous control of the dam — which is the largest in Iraq — created fears that it could lead to the dam breaking (either through destruction or negligence), triggering a massive humanitarian disaster. Currently, the dam is under the control of our alliance, and it continues to hold strategic value for the region.

I appreciated speaking with Col. Michael Farrell of the Army Corps of Engineers at Mosul Dam, Iraq, and hearing his strategic assessment of the situation. Concerns over the dam's instability have led to major remediation and rehabilitation efforts ever since the 2003 invasion in Iraq.

We also stopped in Amman, Jordan, where we met with Imad Najib Fakhoury, Jordan’s Prime Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, for a productive conversation about the continued growth of the close alliance between our two nations. During our time in Jordan, we visited a refugee processing center to see firsthand the challenges facing so many Syrian families there.
There are no simple answers to dealing with the challenges riddling the region — the Middle East has been home to incessant conflict and instability since the end of World War II. The reality is that U.S. influence in the region has limitations, that stable local governments and economies are necessary for any long-term solution, and that simplistic strategies cannot succeed.
The new administration cannot afford to continue the practice of dealing with ISIS on a piecemeal, crisis-by-crisis basis. We need a comprehensive regional strategy that is clearly articulated in terms of concrete tactical steps tied to specific objectives -- not simply concepts and sound bites. I look forward to working with Secretary of Defense Mattis and the new Commander-in-Chief to provide any necessary insight and oversight of the creation and execution of this strategy.
Yours in service,
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