Democratic senator marks first trip to Afghanistan

Ahead of what's expected to be a tough reelection race, Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D) is set to make his first visit to Afghanistan this week.

Tester was in Iraq Tuesday, where he met with Montanan soldiers, military commanders and Iraqi government leaders.

"The best way to get a picture of what’s happening in Iraq and Afghanistan is to go there myself and talk with the folks making decisions and the folks with boots on the ground,” Tester said in a statement posted on his Facebook page. 

It was Tester's second trip to Iraq. His initial visit came in November 2007, almost a year into his first term.

"Our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are the smartest, toughest and strongest in the world, and I look forward to hearing directly from them in order to make the best decisions I can back in the Senate," Tester said.

He's expected to arrive in Afghanistan for his first official visit there later this week. The trip could help burnish Tester's foreign policy credentials as he shapes his 2012 reelection effort.