Gov. Brian Sandoval visited Nevada soldiers in Iraq during a surprise trip to the war-torn country .
The governor said Tuesday in a call from Kuwait that he was impressed with the high spirits of the men and women he spoke and met with during the one-day stop.
Sandoval said he was briefed by generals and met with new Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in the Pentagon.
"The morale here is extremely high," Sandoval said. "They were proud to be here. They love their jobs. They're all eager. They're all fit. They're well taken care of."
Sandoval was on the trip with fellow governors from Utah, Tennessee and Kentucky.
He said they were invited by the Department of Defense. The federal government paid for the travel expenses.
The governor said he met soldiers from Las Vegas, Elko, Reno and Lovelock.
"The soldiers from Nevada were extremely happy to see the governor of their state, and it was very gratifying for me to give them hugs and let them know we care deeply" about their service to their country, Sandoval said.
"I am the commander in chief of the Nevada National Guard," he said. "It was important to me, if I'm going to serve in that capacity, to come out here and see for myself."
As for security on the ground, Sandoval said the military leaders reported progress.
"They've made huge accomplishments in terms of security and stabilizing the country," he said.
The governor said he left Monday morning and visited bases in Kuwait, Baghdad and just outside of Baghdad.
Sandoval did not reveal many specifics about his Iraq tour for security reasons, and he refused to say whether he was going on to Afghanistan for the same reason.
Sandoval said he expects to return to Nevada by this weekend. Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki is acting governor in his absence.
Reporter Alan Choate contributed to this report. Contact reporter Laura Myers at email@example.com or 702-387-2919.