Afghan Army Chief to Visit United States
By Lt. Col. Frederick Rice, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 4, 2005 The chief of the Afghan National Army's General Staff will represent his nation as he travels to the United States later this week to visit three U.S. Army posts.
Gen. Bismullah Khan, who will be joined by three officers from his staff, will start his visit at Fort Drum, N.Y. While there, he will observe training and meet with leaders and staff members from the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, which is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom early next year.
"This is an incredible opportunity for the 10th Mountain Division leadership to gain first-hand knowledge of the Afghan National Army directly from its chief of staff," U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Hansen, an Office of Security Cooperation Afghanistan staff officer and Khan's escort for the trip, said. "The Afghans will also learn a great deal by observing Fort Drum leaders and soldiers participating in Unified Endeavor '06, a division command-post exercise."
Next on their agenda, the Afghan delegation will travel south to Fort Benning, Ga. While at the "Home of the Infantry," Khan will observe soldiers training at Ranger School and Basic Combat Training as well as those conducting training at the Noncommissioned Officer Academy and Officer Candidate School.
The Fort Benning visit will provide Khan with a valuable opportunity to see how the U.S. military relies upon the skills and abilities of its noncommissioned officer corps, Hansen said.
The final leg of Khan's American journey will take him to Fort McPherson, Ga., near Atlanta, to meet with senior leaders from the U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Central Command.
Hansen said he believes Khan's trip will pay huge dividends for the Afghan National Army. "This visit will expose General Khan and his staff to the best characteristics of a professional army, providing them with an example of what to instill in their own forces when they return to Afghanistan," he said.
In addition to gaining invaluable insight about how the U.S. Army conducts its training, Khan and his staff will experience a bit of American culture during their stay. Several short excursions to local neighborhoods, businesses, churches and mosques are planned to familiarize Khan and his staff officers with the characteristics of American society.
When the visit is complete and the Afghan general returns to his country and to his army, Khan is certain to have gained a greater appreciation of the United States ' commitment to building security and stability in Afghanistan, Hansen said. The general will also be equipped with many new lessons and experiences to draw upon as he leads the rebuilding of his nation's army, Hansen said.
(Army Lt. Col. Frederick Rice is assigned to the Office of Security Cooperation Afghanistan.)