News: Camporini, Petraeus suprise coalition troops Christmas Day
Story by Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace
HERAT, Afghanistan - Christmas cheer was abound in Bakwa District, Farah Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 25 thanks to a surprise visit from the Italian Chief of Defense and the International Security Assistance Force commander.
Italian air force Gen. Vincenzo Camporini and U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus met with coalition soldiers and delivered holiday messages of thanks and encouragement.
Italian army Brig. Gen. Marcello Bellacicco, Regional Command-West commander, was also present to meet with his Alpini (mountain warfare) troops.
"I know that it is difficult for you to be here, especially this time of the year," said Camporini, whose military position in Italy is similar to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in America.
The faces of many looked both pleasantly surprised and impressed when Petraeus addressed them in Italian.
"Boun Natale" (Merry Christmas) and "Grazie" (thank you), said Petraeus. He then put the formation of soldiers at ease and asked them to gather around him to be closer and more personal.
Bakwa is one of the more volatile areas in RC-West, and the soldiers based there often engage insurgents in kinetic activities.
However, like the rest of RC-West, many development and Civilian-Military Cooperation initiatives continue to improve the situation in Bakwa.
"Soldiers here are doing wonderful work in tough places," Petraeus said. "It's a privilege for the other 48 ISAF countries to serve with the Italians."