BOSTON, MACongressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston), the lead Democrat on the National Security Subcommittee, recently returned from a weeklong congressional delegation to the Middle East led by Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana).  Congressman Lynch traveled to Iraq, Israel, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), and Bahrain in order to examine efforts to disrupt and destroy the Islamic State and to conduct oversight of regional missile defense systems.

As Iraqi forces battle to take the town of Hit and prepare to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State, Congressman Lynch traveled to Iraq to assess the fight against the Islamic State.  Congressman Lynch held meetings with United States and Iraqi military commanders and observed U.S. service members training Iraqi security forces in Anbar province.  In addition, the delegation met with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones and with Sunni tribal leadership to discuss efforts to train and advise Iraqi forces and prevent the Islamic State from expanding its hold over cities and towns in Iraq.

“As the fight against the Islamic State continues, it is essential that Iraq’s Sh’ia, Sunni, and Kurdish ground forces work in tandem in order to effectively cut off supply lines for the terrorist organization and halt the terrorist group’s attacks on the Iraqi people,” said Congressman Lynch

In Israel, Congressman Lynch met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss regional security interests.  As Israel prepares to deploy one of the most advanced missile defense systems in the world with more than $3.3 billion in support from the United States, Congressman Lynch and the delegation visited several military sites to receive an update on Israel’s missile defense systems and joint missile defense efforts with the U.S.  In December, Israel and the United States successfully tested David’s Sling and Arrow-3, two new ballistic missile defense systems.  More recently, in March, U.S. service members took part in an air defense drill with Israel to improve coordination of U.S. and Israeli air defense forces.   

While in the U.A.E., the delegation held meetings with U.S. military leaders as well as a representative from the U.A.E. Ministry of Defense to examine efforts to strengthen cooperation among Gulf States on missile defense.

“As countries throughout the Middle East face regional security threats from the Islamic State, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist organizations, our meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu was an important opportunity to discuss the strategic relationship between Israel and the United States.  While Iran is so far in compliance with the nuclear agreement, their testing of ballistic missiles makes the region uneasy.  It is essential that we continue to work with our partners in the Middle East to effectively promote our mutual security interests through missile defense and intelligence collaboration,” said Congressman Lynch.

Aboard the USS Harry S. Truman, an aircraft carrier deployed in the Persian Gulf, Congressman Lynch met with U.S. Navy leadership to discuss efforts to dismantle the Islamic State and potential security threats in the Middle East.  In Bahrain, Congressman Lynch also visited with service men and women from Massachusetts who are honorably serving in the U.S. Navy, including constituents from Weymouth.

“I cannot thank our brave men and women in uniform enough for their service to our country.  I am always impressed with their discipline, their humility, and their common bravery.  Meeting and traveling with these troops and hearing their thoughts and concerns firsthand is one of the most important things I can do as a Member of Congress.  It is a privilege to have the chance to spend time with service members from across the country, particularly the brave men and women who call the 8th District of Massachusetts home,” Congressman Lynch added. 

For high resolution photos from CODEL Donnelly, please click here.