Coalition, NATO Forces Take Pride in Afghanistan's Progress
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 23, 2005 Afghanistan "has come alive," thanks to progress made during Operation Enduring Freedom, and troops serving there can't help but feel motivated knowing the role they're playing in that progress, the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe said here today.
Air Force Gen. Robert H. "Doc" Foglesong described the changes he's witnessed in Afghanistan during an interview with the Pentagon Channel and the American Forces Press Service.
Two or three years ago, Foglesong said, he'd drive through the Afghan capital of Kabul and see groups of older men on street corners, but not much else. Six months later, young men began appearing, many of them opening up shops and bringing their families along. A year later, young women and children -- long hidden from view under the Taliban regime -- began walking around.
"You could feel the town come alive. It's vibrant now," the general said. "It's a refresher course for me in national enthusiasm to see what has happened in Afghanistan over the last two or three years."
Foglesong said he's convinced the Afghan people never want to return to the days of oppression when the Taliban ruled with an iron fist and terrorists operated freely.
"They have this taste of freedom now, and I don't think they'll ever go back," he said.
Troops serving in Afghanistan feel a deep pride in the role they're playing in giving the Afghan people that taste of freedom, Foglesong said. This pride extends not just to U.S. and coalition forces but also to the NATO troops supporting them, he said.
NATO commands the International Security Assistance Force in and around Kabul and took command of two more provincial reconstruction teams and a forward support base in Afghanistan May 31, expanding the alliance's security and reconstruction mission in the western part of the country.
NATO defense ministers reiterated their commitment to expanding ISAF into western and southern Afghanistan during a meeting earlier this month in Brussels, Belgium.
Alliance troops also will reinforce Afghan security forces during Afghanistan's Sept. 18 elections for the national assembly and provincial councils, the ministers agreed.
Events unfolding in Afghanistan are "a little-known success story" that's having a major impact on the lives of the Afghan people, Foglesong said.
"For all the NATO troops that go over there, it's not hard to keep them motivated, because they see this progression," he said. "They actually see direct evidence of their participation over there in stability and security operations, actually improving that country over there."