update: In Iraq, Tester meets with Montanans

Senator also discusses future of American mission with leaders

(SANA’A, Yemen) – Senator Jon Tester today personally thanked Montana troops serving in Operation New Dawn in Iraq.

Tester is traveling overseas this week to meet with Montanans, and to discuss the future of America’s missions in Iraq and Afghanistan with military and political leaders.

Tester arrived in Baghdad Tuesday from Kuwait City with the 317th Airlift.

Tester met with members of the Montana National Guard’s 163rd Combined Arms Battalion, including the unit’s commander, Lt. Colonel T.J. Hull.

“Folks in every corner of our state know that we’ve got good reason to be proud of the Montanans who serve our country,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  “Visiting with these folks reinforces for me that the Montana tradition of service to country is alive and well and that Montanans have an awful lot to be proud of.”

Tester also met with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey and General Lloyd Austin, Commanding General of U.S. forces in Iraq.

In a wide-ranging discussion, Tester received input from the top American officials on Iraq’s future after the completion of U.S. troop withdrawals at the end of 2011.

“What I’m hearing from our military leaders on the ground is that the Iraqis are making progress taking control of their own country,” Tester added.  “We’ve got a lot of work still ahead, but it’s clear that having a responsible deadline for the end of American military involvement has prodded the Iraqis to focus on that work and start resolving their issues.”

This is Tester’s second visit to Iraq.  He first traveled to Iraq in November of 2007.

Tester is expected to arrive in Afghanistan later this week.