In a press briefing from Afghanistan, Gov. Brian Sandoval said Sunday he was very impressed with the progress in that country since his first visit to the Middle East.
“I was very impressed in terms of the progress that has been made in the last three years in education, health, infrastructure, public safety,” he said.
But Sandoval conceded that, since arriving in Kabul Saturday, all of his meetings and contacts have been with U.S. military personnel and State Department officials.
Asked if he met with anyone from the Afghan government, he said, “I did not.”
“Most of my experience here has been the briefings with the generals and their staff,” he said.
He said in his briefings from the generals, they were “very impressed with the skill level of the Afghani soldiers.”
Sandoval said he was told there have been dramatic improvements in education including that, “for the first time, women have the ability to attend school.” He said health care is now available to 80 percent of Afghans and life expectancy has improved from 43 to 60 years.
But he said the U.S. must maintain its presence in the country in an advisory role.
“We don’t want to happen in Afghanistan that we lose the gains here that happened in Iraq,” he said adding that those gains “translate into security for us.”
Sandoval said Afghanistan has to remain strong economically to “keep the Taliban at-bay.”
Sandoval was joined on the trip by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Bill Hasmam of Tennessee and Jay Nixon of Missouri.
He said it’s important for governors to “see for themselves the progress that has been made in this country.”
He said it’s also important to be there “in order to receive a better understanding of the current mission.”
He also said it was an opportunity to meet with and thank Nevadan serving in the guard and regular army there.
“They are so positive,” he said. “they are happy, they are healthy and it makes me proud as governor to meet with them.”
Sandoval was headed back to the U.S. Monday morning.