Official Lauds Business Task Force for Success
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2011 The Task Force for Business and Stability Operations’ ability to find ways of creating growth, prosperity and optimism about the future in Iraq and Afghanistan is praiseworthy, a senior Pentagon official said today.
“You have made an extraordinary impact in both Iraq, and now beginning in Afghanistan, in a very short time with, frankly, very limited resources,” said Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, during an awards ceremony in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes honoring task force members for their service.
The task force was established in June 2006 to aid in the revitalization of Iraq's economy and to create jobs for the Iraqi people, and since then, has transitioned to Afghanistan. The group focuses on initiatives to restore the core industrial capability of a country's economy through direct investment, banking and financial networks, industrial revitalization, corporate development, private-sector development, procurement assistance and agriculture revitalization.
“The task force deployed more than 600 business leaders, engineers, subject-matter experts [and] accountants to work in every province across Iraq,” Flournoy said. “By the time organization wound up its operations last January, you really helped to lay the ground work for Iraq’s economic stability and future growth across a wide range of critical sectors.”
Flournoy provided examples of progress in Iraq, including establishment of a national investment commission that issued more than $2 billion in investment licenses for new business development.
“You all facilitated more than $8 billion in private investments to re-open a number of state-owned enterprises across Iraq,” Flournoy added. “Through the task force’s initiatives, 66 factories throughout the country … were re-opened or increased production, creating something like 100,000 jobs restored across Iraq – critical industrial revitalization.”
Flournoy also lauded the task force for its effective transition to Afghanistan.
“As the war in Iraq began to wind down and our focus shifted over to Afghanistan, so too did many of you,” she said. “And this was really above and beyond the call of duty to go from serving in one war zone, pick up, and go to serve in another.
In Afghanistan, Flournoy said, economic and social conditions are even more challenging than what the task force encountered in Iraq,.
“But your mission in Afghanistan is just as crucial to our objectives there,” she added. “President Obama has been very clear: our core goal in Afghanistan is to disrupt, dismantle [and] defeat al-Qaida, and make sure Afghanistan is never again a safe haven for terrorists to attack the U.S. homeland – an absolutely vital interest.”
Flournoy cited the death of Osama bin Laden as part of “genuine and hard-fought progress” in Afghanistan.
“But there are many others,” she noted. “Afghan and coalition forces in Helmand, Kandahar, throughout the south and southwest, have denied the Taliban their former strongholds and steadily degraded the insurgency where it used to be strongest.”
Flournoy emphasized how “absolutely essential” economic and governance progress has become to consolidate and sustain gains over the long term.
“This is where you all come in,” Flournoy said. “This task force, and all of its members, has risen to the challenge in Afghanistan.”
Flournoy commended the task force for its “outstanding contributions” to progress in Afghanistan.
“There’s a story for each and every one of you, but it’s just a handful of these stories that really underscore key qualities of all of you – courage, sacrifice, incredible patriotism, resourcefulness and ingenuity,” she said. “Those are the characteristics that define the people on the task force and the task force’s work, and we are so incredibly grateful for the work that you have done.”