Beshear visits Kentucky troops in Afghanistan

jbrammer@herald-leader.comAugust 4, 2011 

Kentucky Governor

Gov. Steve Beshear addresses members of the Kentucky Farm Bureau during a gubernatorial forum in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, July 20, 2011. Beshear and Republican challenger David Williams reached out to Kentucky farm leaders Wednesday in their first joint appearance of the general election campaign, promising their full attention to agricultural matters if elected on Nov. 8. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

ED REINKE — AP

Gov. Steve Beshear continued his visit to Western Asia on Wednesday by meeting with Kentucky soldiers deployed in Afghanistan.

Beshear, who started the trip Monday and visited troops Tuesday in Iraq and Kuwait, said the experience gives "an absolute clear perspective of what life is all about."

"Folks are over here everyday in harm's way risking their lives to protect our freedoms," Beshear told Kentucky reporters during a telephone conference call from Bagram in Afghanistan. "It really reduces all the political bickering and squabbling that we see back home."

Beshear, who is seeking re-election this fall against Republican challenger David Williams and independent candidate Gatewood Galbraith, is the first governor in recent memory from Kentucky to visit soldiers in a war zone.

Beshear is on the trip at the invitation and expense of the U.S. Department of Defense. He is accompanied by three other governors whose states have large contingents of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Beshear said he left Kuwait Wednesday morning and flew to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

He said he then went to Kandahar and had dinner with 35 Kentucky soldiers.

Throughout the day, Beshear visited troops at the ISAF headquarters in Kabul, the Regional Command-South in Kandahar and Regional Command-East in Bagram.

More than 9,600 Kentucky troops are deployed in Afghanistan. About 6,000 troops are from Fort Campbell, 3,600 from Fort Knox and 79 from the Kentucky National Guard.

Combined with the troops deployed in Iraq and Kuwait, Kentucky has more than 12,000 soldiers serving in these war zones.

Beshear said the governors also attended briefings by military officials who indicated "things were improving here."

He said the trip would continue Thursday, but, for security reasons, he could not divulge where he would be going.

The governor is scheduled to get back to Kentucky late Friday and attend the Fancy Farm political picnic Saturday in Graves County.

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