NATO Force Good For Future of Afghanistan, U.S. General Says
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 31, 2006 In taking over responsibility for southern Afghanistan, the NATO International Security Assistance Force is bringing thousands more troops and greater capability to the area and investing in the country’s future, the U.S. general in charge of coalition forces in Afghanistan said today.
“Today marks the end of coalition leadership in the south, but it also begins a new chapter in the partnership of the Afghan and international community as, together, they continue to build an Afghanistan that is a viable, self-sustaining member of the international community free from international terror,” U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, commander of Combined Forces Command Afghanistan, said following the transfer of authority ceremony in Kabul.
The enemy in Afghanistan remains dangerous, and the international community must continue to be united against terrorism, Eikenberry said. The transfer of authority in the south does not mean the United States is backing out of its commitment there, he emphasized.
“I can assure you that the United States - and I am now speaking as an American - will fulfill its pledge to the Afghan people,” he said. “The United States will not leave Afghanistan until the Afghan people tell us the job is done.”
The U.S. is a key member of NATO, and will maintain its counter-terrorism and reconstruction operations, while still assisting in training the Afghan national security forces, Eikenberry said.
“The Afghan people can rightly be proud of their national army and their national police as they continue to take the fight to the enemy,” he said, noting the progress the security forces have made.
NATO-ISAF nations operating in Regional Command South are Australia, Britain, Canada, Estonia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Romania and the United States. NATO-ISAF forces have been flowing into the south for several months, preparing for the transfer of authority. When fully deployed, they will total about 8,000 troops in the area, bringing the total ISAF force level to about 18,500.