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Jim Talent in Iraq

U.S. Senator Jim Talent is in the Middle East this week. Thursday, he visited the 1107th AVCRAD unit from Springfield. Today, he spoke with reporters by phone from Kuwait City about his trip.

SOLDIERS FROM A SPRINGFIELD UNIT WHO ARE STATIONED IN KUWAIT CITY GOT A VISIT THURSDAY FROM U-S SENATOR JIM TALENT.

TALENT IS TOURING THE MIDDLE EAST THIS WEEK.

HE'S A MEMBER OF THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE.

DURING A CONFERENCE CALL FROM KUWAIT CITY TODAY, TALENT SAID HE HAD DINNER THURSDAY EVENING WITH THE 1107TH AVCRAD NATIONAL GUARD UNIT, WHICH IS BASED IN SPRINGFIELD.

SINCE JANUARY, THE 200-MEMBER AVIATION CLASSIFICATION REPAIR ACTIVITY DEPOT OR AVCRAD HAS HAD THE SOLE RESPONSBILITY OF MAINTAINING ARMY HELICOPTERS...TALENT SAYS THEY'RE SCHEDULED TO BE BACK HOME THE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

TALENT SAYS MEETING WITH THE SPRINGFIELD-BASED AVCRAD WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF HIS TRIP.

BESIDES MEETING WITH SOLDIERS FROM MISSOURI WHO ARE STATIONED IN KUWAIT CITY, TALENT ALSO VISITED WITH TROOPS BASED IN BASRA, IRAQ.

HE WAS THERE EARLIER TODAY.

TALENT SAYS BEFORE MAKING THE TRIP TO THE MIDDLE EAST, ONE OF HIS CHIEF CONCERNS WAS THE ABILITY OF THE ARMY TO GET ARMORED HUMVEES FOR TROOPS.

HE SAYS HE'S BEEN LOOKING INTO THAT DURING HIS TRIP.

TALENT'S VISIT TO THE MIDDLE EAST COMES AT THE SAME TIME AS AN ANNOUNCEMENT THAT DEPLOYMENTS FOR SOME UNITS WILL BE EXTENDED IN PREPARATION FOR THE UPCOMING ELECTIONS IN IRAQ.

TALENT SAYS HE'S TALKED WITH THE TROOPS ABOUT THEIR EXTENDED DEPLOYMENTS.

PART OF THE REASON TALENT SAYS HE WANTED TO VISIT IRAQ WAS BECAUSE ELECTIONS ARE SCHEDULED TO TAKE PLACE THERE IN JANUARY.

HE SAYS ELECTIONS SHOULD GO FORWARD, BARRING ANY TECHNICAL PROBLEMS.

BUT HE ACKNOWLEDGES THERE ARE CHALLENGES.

TALENT SAYS HE'LL USE THE INFORMATION HE'S GATHERED DURING THIS TRIP TO HELP HIM MAKE DECISIONS AS A MEMBER OF THE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE.