Dempsey Thanks Poles for Afghan Help, Urges Continued Support
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WARSAW, Poland, Jul. 24, 2013 Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey today thanked the Polish Armed Forces for their friendship and support in Afghanistan and said he hopes the Polish military will continue its work in the country after 2014 as part of Operation Resolute Support.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with Army Lt. Gen. Mieczyslaw Gocul, the chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, at the Office of the Polish General Staff here this morning.
“I would like the people of Poland to hear from me personally that the contributions of the Polish Armed Forces to our international mission in Afghanistan have been significant, have been courageous and have been successful,” Dempsey said during a short news conference following the meeting.
The chairman arrived here yesterday after three days in Afghanistan, where he met with Polish service members who serve alongside American troops in Ghazni province and in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
The chairman noted that many critics believe the International Security Assistance Force cannot succeed. “I’m not one of them,” he added. “I personally believe from observation of my own soldiers and yours that we can and will succeed in Afghanistan and give the Afghan people a chance for a better life and make the region, and ultimately the world, a more secure place.”
Gocul thanked Dempsey for his visit and spoke of the deep friendship between the militaries of the two countries. The chief of the General Staff said the two men discussed the state of the Polish Armed Forces and efforts Poland has made to transform the forces and organization.
The two men also discussed mutual challenges, including budgetary problems and the professionalization of the military.
During the news conference, Gocul said the Polish military has asked for U.S. help in withdrawing forces from Afghanistan. Dempsey said the U.S. military has a group in Afghanistan working these redeployment issues.
“We can provide as much assistance for those coming out as we did for those forces moving in,” the chairman said.
“What I would add that it is clear that we will have some enduring interests in Afghanistan and in development of their security forces beyond 2014,” Dempsey said. “So, hopefully, I won’t have to be helping with the withdrawal of all of the equipment, because I would like to think that we will have a continued coalition of partners to help the Afghans beyond ’14.”
Gocul noted that the Polish government has not yet decided on the Polish military participation in the post-2014 Resolute Support operation, but that the military is preparing options for the prime minister and president.
Gocul was pressed on the possible size of a Polish contingent. “I don’t have a crystal ball, so I wouldn’t like to speculate,” he said through a translator. “It will be a size to do the tasks and accomplish the mission.”
In planning, NATO is looking at a post-2014 presence in Afghanistan between 8,000 and 12,000 troops, which Dempsey said he believes is about right. Each country in the coalition will make its own determination on how many troops it will contribute.
“I personally believe that the continued presence of the Polish Armed Forces would be a great benefit to the coalition and the Afghans, because Polish soldiers are a great example -- as are Americans -- to what a professional military can and should become,” Dempsey said.
“I would hope that among that number of 8,000 to 12,000, there would be as many Polish men and women as possible,” he added.