Couric Travelling To Afghanistan

Katie Couric is travelling to Afghanistan with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates for a series of dispatches to air on the CBS Evening News as well as a profile of Gates for 60 Minutes.

The 5-day trip was months in the planning. Couric and Gates left Sunday and will travel through Afghanistan including Kabul, Kandahar and war-weary Wardak Province. The trip also includes stops throughout Central Asia and the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

It is Couric's first trip to Afghanistan for CBS News. ABC's Martha Raddatz has been to the country multiple times, most recently in January. And NBC's Ann Curry was in Afghanistan and Iraq in April.

Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went before the Senate Appropriations Committee last week to ask for $83 billion in additional funds for foreign wars and aid, including the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and significant resources to help the Pakistan military fight the Taliban.

Gates' schedule will not allow Couric to anchor from the Middle East. Her pieces will begin running next Tuesday on the Evening News. The 60 Minutes segment is scheduled to air during the May 9 broadcast.

Jeff Glor, Harry Smith and Maggie Rodriguez will rotate on the anchor desk in Couric's absence.