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Shuster to rally troops on trip to Afghanistan

March 26, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., will head to Afghanistan next week as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation.

The freshman congressman said that because of security reasons he did not have specific information on when and from where he would leave, or exactly where the week-long trip would take him.

"We will be in and out of Afghanistan and in other destinations around the world where we are fighting terrorists," he said Monday.

Shuster said the speaker of the House asked him to join the 10- to 12-member delegation that will meet with U.S. military leaders, Afghan military and political leaders, and with U.S. troops.

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He said the goal is to find out if each group is getting the support it needs.

"I'll meet with our guys in the field and give them encouragement and let them know we are behind them," he said.

Shuster said he has only a few concerns about going to the war-torn region.

"I immediately said yes, then I though I should check with my wife since it is a war zone," he said.

Shuster said most importantly, troops need to know the American people are behind them.

"I want to make sure I can convey the support. I think it is good for them to hear that," he said.

Shuster said he was trying to reach Specialist 4 Andrew Scott, a Waynesboro, Pa., resident wounded in Afghanistan while serving with the Army's 10th Mountain Division. He returned home earlier this month.

"I may get a chance to visit the 10th Mountain Division, so I want to see if he has any message he wants me to take to them," Shuster said.

He said he expect the Afghans will want money to rebuild their country.

"It's been decimated there. We can give them some money and the expertise they need to help in various aspects of rebuilding the economy and setting up a government," Shuster said.

He said he is also would like to take school supplies made in the 9th Congressional District that he represents to Afghanistan if it can be arranged.

Shuster classified the United States' efforts in Afghanistan to this point a success.

"The Taliban is thrown out. They are no longer governing any part of Afghanistan," he said. "But there are still small, strong pickets of resistance."

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