News: ISAF commander visits Forward Operating Base Shank
Story by Spc. Matthew Thompson
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan —International Security Assistance Force commander, U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, toured Forward Operating Base Shank, Aug. 21, for the first time since assuming command in Afghanistan in June 2009.
McChrystal's mission was to meet with the Czech provincial reconstruction team followed by a tour of the Operational Coordination Center-Province, operated by the Afghan national army on West Shank.
After receiving a welcoming brief from Col. David Haight, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, McChrystal moved to the chapel for a briefing with Lt. Col. George Pitt, commander, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion and the Logar Czech PRT.
"I was surprised how much Gen. McChrystal wanted to know about our projects and what we are doing here," said Bohumila Ranglova, Head of Civilian PRT.
Since arriving at FOB Shank, Ranglova stated the Czech team has made a tremendous impact on the development of local Afghan villages in the Logar province.
"We've accomplished 25 projects and there are 51 projects that are on-going or in preparation," said Ranglova.
However, the most important piece to their success, as she informed McChrystal in the meeting, wasn't necessarily the number of projects completed, but the progression of relationships and attitude with the Afghans in the villages where they have been working.
"Once we bring developmental projects into their communities, the Afghans take over and make it their own," said Ranglova. "So far, we've had no projects destroyed because the locals provide security for us."
McChrystal, led by Haight proceeded to the OCC-P to meet face-to-face with Afghan Brig. Gen. Mohammed Mirjan, the commander of the OCC-P, and his team of ANA Soldiers, who have been working diligently to enhance security in the province.
"Gen. Mirjan was proud to know that Gen. McChrystal was coming to see the ANA," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Dewey Fowler, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the OCC-P with 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion. "It was a huge morale boost."
"The OCC-P was stood up on Jan. 15, 2009 and only three months later in March they were mission ready handling (Improvised Explosive Device) threats, patrols and traffic control points," Fowler said. "It shows that the ANA are dedicated to protecting Logar."
At the top of McChrystal's concerns were the efforts, success and troubles encountered on election day.
"We received information about the enemy; we then went out and immediately pushed back the enemy," said Mirjan about the rocket attacks that occurred on election day. "We had good coordination between the ANA and ISAF."
McChrystal also inquired about what Mirjan thought his troops needed to continue building on their success.
"We need more training, more equipment and troops," Mirjan said through an interpreter. "We also need better services for the people like electricity and a clinic."
McChrystal thanked the ANA leaders and Soldiers for their partnership. Through the interpreter, Mirjan expressed his thanks to McChrystal on behalf of himself and soldiers. "You are welcome if you come at any time, it will be appreciated," Mirjan said.
After the meeting with Mirjan, Pitt led McChrystal around the OCC-P highlighting the facilities available to the ANA and Afghan National Police on FOB Shank.
"We have barracks, classrooms and a dining facility for them here," Pitt said as he pointed out the buildings around the OCC-P.
Shortly before lunch, McChrystal and his team boarded a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and headed to the combat outpost at Baracki Barack to finish McChrystal's tour of Logar province.