PRESS RELEASE

Rep. Capuano Returns from Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan

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[Click here to see a photo gallery of the trip.]

February 20, 2003 -- Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) returned late Tuesday from a trip to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kuwait. A scheduled stop in Afghanistan was cancelled after attempts to land at the Bagram Air Base were severely hampered by a blinding snowstorm. Rep. Capuano met with troops stationed overseas, received briefings on current military activities and toured American installations.

"Our military personnel, including many Massachusetts residents, have responded to their country's call despite the sacrifices they will face. They deserve our heartfelt thanks. I wanted to take that message to our brave men and women, who are hard at work thousands of miles away from their loved ones," stated Rep. Capuano. "I remain concerned about the President's rush to war in Iraq but regardless of policy differences, I respect and appreciate the courage and commitment of our troops around the world."

Although he was unable to travel to Afghanistan, Rep. Capuano spent time in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan where he met with Kyrgyzstan President Askar Akayev to discuss a range of issues, including the U.S. military presence at the Ganci Airbase near Bishkek. This is the airfield where all supplies going into Afghanistan are processed. While at the Ganci Air Force Base, Rep. Capuano participated in a Town Hall meeting with members of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing.

"It was interesting to talk with members of our military about their needs and about their current activities. The Town Hall meeting format was an excellent opportunity to share my opinions, but more importantly, to learn about what is on the minds of our armed forces," stated Rep. Capuano.

The delegation then traveled to the Karshi Kharnabad (K2) Air Base in Uzbekistan, where the 416th Air Expeditionary Group is stationed. There, Rep. Capuano met with Colonel Marvin Williams, toured the Air Base and received a briefing. Rep. Capuano also spent time with troops stationed at K2, including a Military Police Unit and a Special Forces Unit - both from Massachusetts.

Rep. Capuano then traveled to the airport processing center in Kuwait City, where all soldiers arriving in Kuwait are processed before leaving on their next assignment. Rep. Capuano met with many new arrivals, including members of the 82nd Airborne. Approximately 4,000 soldiers arrived in Kuwait that day.

While in Kuwait, Rep. Capuano toured Camp Doha. This base is the headquarters of the Army Forces Central Command. He also spent time at Camp New York in the Kuwaiti desert, which serves as the base of operations for the Third Infantry Division. After meeting with officials at Camp New York, he traveled to a United States Marine Corps Camp in the desert.

"Although I am disappointed I could not spend time in Afghanistan to review our rebuilding efforts, I was able to talk with many of our troops stationed overseas. I was impressed with their high morale and their resolve," stated Rep. Capuano.

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Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208