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Video: 30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 7

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When I face a challenge, I have no choice but to stand up, face it, acknowledge it and talk about it. There’s no denying the fact there is a lot of politics surrounding Afghanistan. At the ground level, we are not a political entity; we are simply military service members from a bunch of different countries. With that said, it would be extremely easy to take our views and opinions and then attribute them, inappropriately, to the political will of an entire country. I hope, over the course of these 30 Days, people across the world will understand that I and the people I’m talking to, have no desire to influence political opinions. I simply want to share the lives and perspective of the everyday service member.

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This work, 30 Days Through Afghanistan: Day 7, by TSgt Kenneth Raimondi, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:03.2.2010

Date Posted:03.3.2010 12:03AM


Video ID:80236




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  • NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen giving a speech at the Yerevan University in Yerevan, Armenia.

Transcript follows:

Rector Simonyan,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends,
Thank you, Rector Simonyan, for that kind introduction.  It is indeed a great to be in Armenia.  I am also happy to see a lot of young people and students in the audience. I always enjoy talking to young people.  And it is an honour to do so at Yerevan State University.  This is a prestigious institution. Armenian presidents, poets, and philosophers studied in these halls.  And I am certain that many of Armenia’s future leaders are sitting here in the audience this morning.
I studied economics. And I have always been enormously impressed by the incredible potential of this country and this region. We all know that centuries ago, this was one of the richest regions in the world.  And I believe that it can achieve that distinction once again.
This is particularly important for you, the young people of this country.  You must live in the future that you inherit.  But you can also help create the future that you desire.
My message to you today is that only cooperation, dialogue, and compromise can build the stability and security that prosperity requires. 
The organisation that I represent, NATO, is proof that this formula works.  And through our partnership with Armenia, we want to contribute to building stability and security in this region too.
In my remarks today, I want to cover three key points.  First, I would like to tell you a bit about NATO.  Second, I will explain how NATO and Armenia are working together today and describe some of the support NATO is providing your country.  And third, I want to look at how Armenia, and this region, can reach their true potential. And I would also like to express my views on the Safarov issue.
So, first, NATO.  The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is unique, both an international political alliance and a military alliance.  Two of our Allies - the United States and Canada - come from North America.  The other 26 Allies come from Europe. 
All Allies, on both sides of the Atlantic, have undertaken a solemn commitment.  They have agreed that in the event of an attack on the territory or population of one Ally, then all the others will come to that country’s help, according to the principle “all for one, and one for all.” It is a group of like-minded democracies who are willing, able and ready to defend each other come what may – which is all the more important during times of uncertainty.
But NATO is more than just a collective defence Alliance.  It is also a political Alliance united by common beliefs and principles.  All Allies share the same fundamental values of liberty, democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.  And the Allies are prepared to act to defend these values whenever necessary.
We see that commitment today in many places around the globe, where we have operations under the mandate of the United Nations.  In Afghanistan, where we are working to make sure that the country can never again be a safe haven for terrorists.  In Kosovo, where we continue to help provide a safe environment for all communities.  In the Indian Ocean where we help to ensure free passage for ships facing the threat of piracy.  And last year over Libya, where we prevented a massacre and helped protect civilians from attack. 
In everything we do - politically and operationally - we have found that the keys to success are consensus and cooperation.  Some Allies are large, like the United States. Others are smaller, like my own country, Denmark.  But every decision in NATO is taken by consensus.  This means that all Allies, regardless of their size, must agree.  And it means all Allies have an equal voice.
From time to time, we do have disagreements.  But we work through them like true friends.  We talk - a lot. Eventually, we compromise.  And we come to an agreement that all of us can live with. It’s not always easy. But we do it every day.
And it’s a virtuous circle.  Cooperation requires dialogue.  Dialogue brings compromise.  Compromise permits cooperation.  And cooperation enhances our security.
It is this approach that has made NATO the most successful Alliance in history.  But of course, we do not live in history.  We must face the threats of the future, not the past.  Our times are changing.  Our challenges are changing.  And NATO is constantly changing to meet them.
Over the past two decades, we have come to understand that the simple physical defence of our populations and territories is not enough. Tanks massed on borders can no longer guarantee our security.  New threats are too complex, too interconnected, and too unpredictable.  They require a different approach.
Challenges like terrorism, cyber warfare, or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction cannot be confronted by any one army, any one country, or even NATO acting alone.  They require teamwork across borders, across regions, and even across cultures. 
That’s why achieving security in the 21st century must be a truly cooperative endeavour.  We need partners – here, in this region, and across the world – partners who share our values and our desire for security. 
Your efforts to work towards improved democracy, fair elections and a free media are welcome.  They are good for Armenia.  And they lay the foundation for an even stronger partnership with NATO. 
And that leads me to the second point I want to make today – how NATO and Armenia are working together.
Armenia has been an important NATO partner for many years.  Your country’s contributions to our operations in both Kosovo and Afghanistan are significant -- and highly valued. 
In Afghanistan, you are part of a NATO-led coalition of 50 nations, one quarter of the countries of the world.  To ensure that Afghanistan will never again provide a safe haven for terrorists who threaten our nations.  I have visited Afghanistan many times, and I have seen the tremendous job that your service personnel are doing.
I know the challenges, and I have seen with my own eyes the significant progress we are making across the country. By the end of 2014, we will complete our current combat mission there.  But our commitment to Afghanistan will continue.  After 2014, we will start a new mission to train, advice and assist the Afghan security forces. And I very much hope that Armenia will be part of that support.
Your country’s contributions to NATO-led operations mean that Armenian troops have received valuable training and peacekeeping experience.  This is an important part of developing your country’s own peacekeeping capabilities, both at home and abroad. NATO is providing significant support to help you build-up these capabilities. 
We are also assisting Armenia in other areas, such as border security, defence reform, and cyber security.  This makes Armenia stronger, safer, and better able to contribute to security elsewhere.
But our partnership also makes sense for Armenians here at home.  One important priority in our partnership has been civil defence and disaster response. We all know that earthquakes are a recurrent danger here in this region; this country has suffered terribly.  The quake in 1988 killed more than forty-five thousand people.  So we are providing training to help Armenian rescuers strengthen their capabilities in search and rescue.
These are just some examples of what we do together.  And we do it in full respect of Armenia’s balanced foreign and security policy.  To put it more clearly, we see no contradiction between good NATO-Armenia relations, and good relations with Russia.  It can work.  It does work.  And by the way, it works for NATO too – we have a deep, well developed relationship with Russia as well.  Because we believe that, at this time in European history, we can have a virtuous circle.  All countries can put the past to rest, and move forward.  And that the whole continent would benefit as a result.  
This leads me to my third and final point – how Armenia, and this region, can reach their full potential.  A potential of open borders.  Increased investment.  Extra trade opportunities for your industrial and agricultural products.  Better job opportunities.  Strengthened regional political and economic cooperation.  Enhanced stability and security.  And greater prosperity.
We know what is holding back this potential. Unresolved conflicts. Closed borders. Minefields. Trenches. Closed airspace. This region has more barriers to cooperation between neighbours than almost anywhere in the world.  We need to break down those old barriers of mistrust.  And we must build up new bridges of regional reconciliation. 
A crucial step has to be finding a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 
Two things are clear.  First, there is no military solution.  And second, the only way forward is through dialogue, compromise, and cooperation.
NATO as an organisation is not involved directly in finding a solution to this conflict.  Nor do we take sides.  But we will continue to support the Minsk process and efforts towards a peaceful settlement.
I am deeply concerned by the Azerbaijani decision to pardon the Azerbaijani army officer Safarov. The act he committed in 2004 was a terrible crime that should not be glorified. The pardon damages trust and does not contribute to the peace process.  There must be no return to conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  Tensions in this region must be reduced, and concrete steps must be taken to promote regional cooperation and reconciliation.   
Dear friends,
The Caucasus region has great potential. Armenia has great potential. And our NATO-Armenia partnership has great potential, as well.
The countries of this region have been locked in conflict for too long.  It is time to build peace.  Let us seize this moment to create the stability, the security, and the prosperity that Armenia deserves, that this region deserves, and that you deserve.
Some people wish it will happen.  Some people think it can happen.  You can make it happen. 
Thank you very much.
  • FOB Shank | Day 34 – There’s a very important portion of the Afghanistan story that I feel we haven’t told successfully. It’s the story of the troops living in holes next to the Afghan National Security Forces while fighting to secure this country.I look back on 30 Days, and the only time we spent with them was at Strong Point Khyber. It was a great day, a great story with great people helping us to tell it, but I feel like we should have done more.  Yes, I feel mass media sensationalizes the amount of fighting going on. Yes, I do feel the global view of Afghanistan is skewed towards this place being 100 percent hell hole when it isn’t. But there is a lot of fighting going on here and Ken and I did everything we could to get out there to cover the story. Produced by Tech Sgt. Raimondi.
  • NATO Channel profiles Afghan Mixed Marshal Arts (MMA) champion highlighting his dedication to his sport and how he hopes sportsmen can inspire the future of his country.  
Teaser: Baz Mohammed Mobariz is a 27-year-old MMA fighter from Kabul. A dedicated sportsman, he prides himself on his aggression and explosive power in the ring. But Baz isn’t just a fighter; he thinks that Afghani youths can harness some of their energy to become ambassadors for their country, representing Afghanistan in the ring. 
Footage includes: (00:00 until 00.28)  Baz Mohammed training in his gym with his coach Gul Mohammed in a small backstreet gym in Karte Parwan, Kabul, 
(00.28 until 00.56) Archive footage of Baz Mohammed’s bout with Egypt’s Haitham Tantawy in India. Tantawy is an Egyptian kickboxing specialist who Baz Mohammed knocked out in the third round.  This footage is copyright free and courtesy of SPA in India. 
(00:56 until 04:38 ) Various shots of Baz Mohammed conducting running and boxing drills in the hills surrounding Kabul, including panoramic shots of him training in the landscape. 
(04:38 until 05:17) SOUNDBITE –- BAZ MOHAMMED SITTING IN HIS GYM -  “In the past I wrestled locally at the Pul-e Khromri stadium and was fighting in local competitions. I started watching MMA videos with my brother, and practicing with each other in the wrestling gym. We didn’t really know any of the rules, but we both started MMA from there.”
(05:17 until 05:21 ) SOUNDBITE –- BAZ MOHAMMED SITTING IN HIS GYM -  “In my last match I felt this huge burden on me”
(05:21 until 05:25) SOUNDBITE –- BAZ MOHAMMED SITTING IN HIS GYM “When I first punched my opponent in the face, his attitude changed”
(05:25 until 05:40) SOUNDBITE – BAZ MOHAMMED SITTING IN HIS GYM “His eyes were puffy, his lips torn, his nose broken. I elbowed him again and again. That knocked him out. Then the medics brought the stretcher in and took him away.”
(05:40 until 06:02) SOUNDBITE – BAZ MOHAMMED SITTING IN HIS GYM “Afghan youths have a strong drive and they all like tough sports. I receive calls from guys in different provinces every day showing interest in MMA”
(06:02 until 06:10) SOUNDBITE – BAZ MOHAMMED SITTING IN HIS GYM “Afghans have the power and capability to perform well and bring achievements to their country.”
(06:10 until 06:19) SOUNDBITE – BAZ MOHAMMED SITTING IN HIS GYM “I don’t really like talking about politics: I’m a sportsman. I don’t want to interfere in politics. But I can tell you on thing –“
(06:19 until END) SOUNDBITE – BAZ MOHAMMED SITTING IN HIS GYM “Afghans want peace and not war.”
Produced by Joe Sheffer, Kabul, Afghanistan.  Also available in High Definition.
  • B-roll from the NATO Secretary General Press Conference on Syria and Turkey.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen briefs the media on the developments between Syria and Turkey as well as giving an update on Afghanistan. He then answers questions from the media. A transcript of his statement is below. This is also available in high definition.

Good afternoon, Syria is still a matter of concern. We are following the situation closely. As you know, NATO’s core business is security. NATO is where North America and Europe come together every day to discuss the security issues which concern us. And NATO is where Europe and North America work together every day to find solutions. In NATO, any Ally can bring any issue to the table at any time. That is what makes us strong. That is what makes us an Alliance. That is why it is appropriate that Allies came together last week to discuss Syria’s outrageous shooting down of a Turkish aircraft. It is why we continue to follow developments very closely and with great concern. And why we remain actively engaged in political consultations. This is a crisis which directly affects one of our Allies. And one of the gravest security challenges the world faces today. We condemn Syria’s shooting down of the Turkish aircraft in the strongest possible terms. And we condemn the escalating spiral of killing, destruction and human rights abuses in Syria. The right response to this crisis remains a political response. And a concerted response by the international community against a regime that has lost all humanity and all legitimacy. That is why I welcome the meeting of the Action Group on Syria in Geneva this weekend. The international community has come together. It has clearly endorsed a plan for a democratic transition to end the violence and answer the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria. Now it is vital to enforce that political plan. Every member of the international community should use its influence and spare no effort to bring an end to the bloodshed and move Syria forward. This conflict has already gone on for too long. It has cost too many lives, and put the stability of the whole region at risk. The international community has a duty to put an end to it and to do it now. Let me turn to Afghanistan. We are working toward our goal of putting the security of Afghanistan in the hands of the Afghans. As we speak, half the Afghan population lives in areas where their own forces are in the lead for providing security. And over the coming weeks and months, that protection will extend to three quarters of the population. That means that, later this summer, those Afghans living in areas protected by their own forces will become the clear majority. This is a big step forward. A step towards our shared goal of seeing Afghan troops and police fully responsible for their country’s security by the end of 2014. It has been made possible thanks to the courage, skills and sacrifice of ISAF and our Afghan partners. There are still challenges to face and hard fighting ahead. But Afghanistan is making headway. Of course, security is just one of the challenges facing Afghanistan.
And NATO is just one part of the solution. In the bigger picture of the future Afghanistan security, development and good governance all have to come together. And together, the international community and the Afghan people are putting the pieces in place. Over the last few months, we have built a strong framework of partnership and mutual responsibility. On which Afghanistan can rely as it stands on its own two feet. 
In May, the Chicago summit addressed security concerns, by sending a clear message that NATO will have a new mission to train, advice and assist Afghan security forces after 2014. In June, the Kabul conference sent a clear message of regional responsibility from the countries of Central Asia and their neighbors to support Afghanistan well into the next decade. And next week, the international community will come together in Tokyo to show its commitment to Afghanistan’s long-term economic development. Tokyo is a key opportunity to deliver aid commitments to ensure that Afghanistan continues to develop and remain secure long after 2014. Because even when Afghanistan is fully in charge of its own security, it will still be one of the poorest countries in the world. And the best way to maintain its security will be to help it face this challenge. That is why the Tokyo conference is so important. The international community has laid the foundations for growth, by supporting Afghanistan in areas such as transport, communications, healthcare and education. The Afghan people need to see that the international community will continue to build on those gains. At the same time, the international community needs to know that the Afghan authorities will live up to their commitments. President Karzai has already pledged to improve governance, and to fight corruption. To ensure the protection of human rights, including the rights of women. Delivering on those pledges is vital. We now have a once-in-a-generation chance to break the cycle of violence and extremism in Afghanistan. To build long-term security for Afghans, the wider region, and for ourselves. It’s a chance we must all seize. Also available in high definition.


This video is featured in:

30 Days Through Afghanistan
30 Days Through Afghanistan


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