DENVER (CBS4)– Republican Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman spent his Thanksgiving in Afghanistan with U.S. troops. He was part of a Congressional delegation getting a closer look at the security situation in the region.
“It’s been tough on them, they’ve lost some ground, they’ve taken tremendous casualties,” said Coffman.READ MORE: It's Melanoma Awareness Month, And Colorado Doctor Has Advice: Look Out 'For Spots That Are Irregular'
Coffman’s visit to Afghanistan comes one year after Afghan forces took the lead in the fight against the Taliban.
Elements of Al Qaida, ISIS and the Taliban are now vying for territory in the region and if U.S. troops withdraw now, Coffman says, the sacrifices made to stabilize the country will be lost as they were in Iraq. He supports the president’s decision to leave a limited military presence through 2017 with U.S. troops primarily in an advise and assist role.
“Certainly the special operations forces are out there with Afghan forces and engaging with the enemy and so we’re still taking some casualties although they’re way down,” said Coffman.
In addition to meeting with troops, Coffman met with the new Afghan president, urging him to root out corruption in the government.READ MORE: Denver Police Find Stolen Jeep With 2-Year-Old Child Inside, Search For Suspect Continues
“I’m optimistic in terms of where he can take the country and his ability to work with the United States,” said Coffman.
But, he’s concerned that the military is providing Afghan forces with tactics and equipment that aren’t sustainable. The Taliban are a light infantry force yet Coffman says we were providing Afghans with heavy weapons.
“Why we giving heavy weapons to the Afghans that don’t know how to maintain, that U.S. taxpayers will have to fund indefinitely along with contractors to provide the maintenance for this. So what I’m trying to do is force an analysis to say ‘What is reasonable here that we’re giving them,'” said Coffman.
Coffman said he will also push for a new authorization of military force that specifically addresses ISIS and the Taliban.MORE NEWS: Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse Introduces Bill To Designate 'Officer Eric H. Talley Post Office Building' In Boulder
Coffman is a Marine Corp combat veteran and the only member of Congress to serve in both Iraq wars.