Gov. Chafee is in Afghanistan, spending the week visiting with National Guard troops, and in a conference call with reporters said “Rhode Island troops are doing really well here.”
He added, “It’s just a tremendous sacrifice [for them]. It was very sobering having supper with them. I’ve been surprised at how thankful they are that governors came out. It really does make a difference.”
Chafee said many of the troops he spoke with knew Sgt. Dennis Weichel, the soldier from Providence who died in Afghanistan recently while trying to save a young boy. “They all know Dennis Weichel here in Afghanistan and were devastated by that, as all Rhode Islanders were.”
He also said he had some more lighthearted conversations with the troops as he visited Bagram Air Force base today. “We were chit chatting about fishing season and striper season,” he said. “They are going to miss all that. It’s just not the same to skype pr email.”
Given the Taliban attack on Kabul on Sunday, Chafee said, “After hearing events of Sunday with the Taliban I was a bit apprehensive to be honest.” But, he added, “I trust the Department of Defense.”
Chafee has spoken out against the war, but said his own feelings on it were irrelevant during this trip. “Im really not hear to cast judgement on what we are doing. I’m just hear to check on national guard.”
Chafee arrived on Kuwait yesterday and will be in Afghanistan until Friday, he said. The trip was paid for by the Dept. of Defense and he is joined by the governors of Michigan and South Dakota.