News: Top commander pledges continued support in southwest Afghanistan
Story by Staff Sgt. Brian Buckwalter
FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, Afghanistan -- The top commander in Afghanistan pledged continued coalition support to Afghan National Security Forces, even as the Marines in southwest Afghanistan draw their numbers down.
“We will be with you for a long time,” said Gen. John R. Allen, commander of International Security Assistance Force, to a group of Marines and Afghan National Army soldiers aboard Forward Operating Base Delaram II, June 14.
These remarks came during a trip to the Nimruz province base to visit with leadership from the ANA’s 2nd Brigade, 215th Corps; 1st Marine Division (Forward); and Regimental Combat Team 6. General Allen said he wanted to observe the working relationship between coalition advisors and the ANA.
“As our main units start to depart, it will be the advisors that are the means by which we will stay in close contact with the Afghan National Security Forces,” he said. “Here is where it is working well, and I wanted to come and see it.”
The ISAF commander said that the Strategic Partnership Agreement, which President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed May 1, 2012, opened a new chapter in the relationship of coalition and Afghan forces. Advising, mentoring and training become the primary efforts as operational support winds down.
Over the next several months, Marine and coalition troop numbers will dwindle, as bases in the region close, said Gen. Allen. Some forces will go home, and others will consolidate to larger bases in Helmand province, he added.
“Much of what you see around you will be vacant desert again,” Gen. Allen told those who came with him for the visit.
Delaram II won’t completely close. There will still be an ANA presence, along with a small number of Marine advisors.
ANA Brig. Gen. Abdul Wasea, commanding general, 2nd Brigade, says the soldiers in his area of operations are ready to handle security on their own.
“We have full control of our jurisdiction,” he said through a translator. “You can freely move around and talk with the people and see the security situation is extremely improved,” in areas like Delaram and Musa Qa’lah.
The capacity and capability of the Afghan fighting forces grows every day because they are good fighters with good leadership, said Gen. Allen.
“It’s a good young Army,” he added. “Many of the operations that are conducted by this brigade, which is a very good brigade of the 215th Corps … are done completely independently and are getting better all the time.”
Brigadier Gen. Wasea said that over the past three months – a period traditionally known as insurgent fighting season – ANSF independently conducted 70 percent of operations in the area.
“I am proud of the ANSF in this part of the country,” he said.
“We are ready to resist and fight against (the enemy) and kill them on the spot,” he added. “We don’t hesitate to do that.”
The challenge going forward, says Gen. Allen, isn’t the fighting. It’s improving the logistical capability of the ANA. The arrangement between Afghan and coalition leaders was to develop the combat forces first, while coalition forces provided logistical support. As recruiting efforts continue, the training focus will shift to meet those supporting requirements.
During Gen. Allen’s remarks to the small crowd of ANA and Marines, he said it has been a privilege and honor for coalition forces to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Afghan Forces.
The effort “has been worth it,” he said because Afghanistan will be a sovereign and free country.
Brigadier Gen. Wasea thanked Gen. Allen and all coalition forces for their sacrifices in helping develop the ANA into a capable and independent security force.
He said he looks forward to continued and increased peace, knowledge and prosperity for Afghanistan.