United States Senator Ben Sasse says he observed some positive signs during his eight-day trip to the Middle East with a Senate delegation.
Sasse made an official visit (CODEL) to Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
During the CODEL, Sasse met with U.S. troops, military officials and political leaders to discuss political, economic and security issues-including threats from both the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and Iranian influence in the region.
Sasse says he had a chance to speak frankly with military personnel, some of whom were from Nebraska.
“There’s cautious optimism from the U.S. troops,” Sasse tells Nebraska Radio Network in a telephone interview. “They think real progress has been made over the last six months or so in both Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Only approximately 9,800 American troops remain in Afghanistan in a role to train, advise, and assist Afghan troops.
Sasse credits President Barack Obama for backing off of his time table to bring home the troops.
“The Afghan military is doing a better job, but they need the advice and counsel of the American war fighters,” according to Sasse. “So, there’s optimism in Afghanistan right now, because the president has pulled back a little bit on his draw-down plans.”
Sasse says the American military faces two terrorist factions in the Middle East. Sunni jihadists, according to Sasse, seek launching sites for terrorist activities around the globe. Iraqi Shia militia, funded by Iran, also pose a threat to stability in the Middle East.
In addition to visiting with troops, the group met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israeli President Rivlin, Jordanian King Abdullah, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Iraqi President Masum, Afghan President Ghani, Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, and Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]