Task Force Lays Foundation for Stability in Afghan West
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 14, 2005 Coalition forces in western Afghanistan have been working to stabilize the region, support the Afghan government's priorities, and prepare for the upcoming International Security Assistance Force expansion, the coalition's military leader in the region said today.
"My team has laid the foundation for sustained growth and stability in western Afghanistan," said Army Col. Phillip Bookert, commander of Combined Task Force Longhorn, at a news conference in the Afghan capital of Kabul. "With our support, the provincial governors from all four western provinces came together for the first time to discuss issues facing their communities, thus strengthening the region and indicating their priorities for reconstruction and economic development."
Combined Task Force Longhorn covers the western part of Afghanistan and is responsible for provincial reconstruction teams in Herat and Farah.
The team's successes include positive strides with the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Program. It has also established two fully operable PRTs, supported three permanent Afghan National Army kandaks (battalions), had successful cooperative efforts with the Afghan National Police, and facilitated numerous humanitarian assistance projects, the colonel said.
Bookert said these successes came at price. His team lost soldiers, including a commander, and civilians during its operations. Through it all, he added, the team has become a part of the Afghan community in the west.
"The measurement of success for us is to be able to leave the west knowing it is a more stable region on its way to prosperity, ... knowing that we have left it better than we found it," he said. "We will leave the people in the Herat, Ghor, Badghis and Farah provinces in the good hands of the ISAF team, confident in their future."