Senator James Lankford (R-OK) yesterday returned to the United States after leading a congressional delegation trip to Turkey, Kosovo, and South Korea. Lankford traveled abroad from December 14 to December 20 and was joined by Congressmen Steve Russell (OK-5) and Markwayne Mullin (OK-2).
The purpose of the trip was to visit deployed Oklahoma National Guard troops in Kosovo, and meet with foreign leaders and military personnel in Turkey and South Korea regarding regional security matters, including the fight against ISIS.
“As instability around the world rises, it is as important as ever for America to project strength and advocate for freedom and democracy internationally,” said Lankford. “This trip fortified my belief that America is the greatest nation on earth – and that we have a responsibility to advocate for peace, religious freedom, and human rights around the world.
“It was an honor to visit and thank the Oklahoma National Guard troops in Kosovo for serving to protect our freedom overseas. Kosovars are grateful for our presence there, as well as our defense of their new nation and freedoms. This trip really showed the good that America does across the world.”
Ankara, Turkey and Incirlik Air Base:
In Turkey, Lankford, Russell and Mullin met with American Ambassador John R. Bass and other Embassy officials to discuss Turkey’s political landscape, handling of refugees, relations with Syria, and the fight against ISIS. Col. John Walker, along with Ms. Linda Specht from the US Consulate, hosted the Members for a series of briefings on air operations and personnel and base security. They visited the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, to discuss Syria, Iraq, Israel, and United States-Turkish cooperation. They also met Assistant Justice Minister Bilal Ucar to advocate for the release of Andrew Brunson, a missionary arrested in October on unclear charges.
Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo:
At the Camp Bondsteel Army Base in Kosovo, Lankford, Russell, and Mullin visited with Oklahoma’s National Guard, the Bravo Company, 45th Brigade Special Troops Battalion of the Military Intelligence Company. They also received a security briefing from Brig. General Phillip Jolly, Deputy Commanding General for USAREUR, about Kosovo’s stability and economic progress, NATO plans, and increasingly bold Russian activities in the region.
Seoul, South Korea:
Lankford and Russell met with South Korean leaders to reinforce the strong alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea. They received updated information about the impeachment of the Korean President, Park Geun-hye. They met with US and Korean military leaders to discuss the North Korean threat and America’s security relationship. Lankford and Russell visited with General Vincent Brooks, Commander of United States Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command, and General Leem of the South Korean Armed Forces and Deputy Commander of Combined Forces Command. They met with American Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert, and they met with Members of the South Korean National Assembly, the unicameral national legislature of South Korea. They also joined Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) for a visit to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and meetings with Embassy officials. Finally, they visited Osan Airbase to discuss the defense of the Korean Peninsula in case of an outbreak in hostilities.
Senator Lankford serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Homeland Security Committee, and the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.