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Afghan National Army Activates Second Regional Command

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2004 – The Afghan National Army took another step toward greater security and strengthening the Afghan government with the activation today of a second regional command at Gardez.

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The Tropic Lightning Division's Maj. Gen. Eric Olson, commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force 76, poses with soldiers of the Afghan National Army's Thunder Corps at the activation ceremony for the Gardez Regional Command Sept. 22. Photo by Sgt. Denise Schultz, USA
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The first regional command was established in Kandahar Sept. 19.

The Gardez Regional Command, as well as the one at Kandahar, will provide the Afghan National Army a permanent presence in the east and south of Afghanistan.

The ANA also plans to activate regional commands in Mazar-e Sharif and Herat, which will provide the army a permanent presence in the west and north.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Eric Olson, commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division and of Combined Joint Task Force 76 in Afghanistan who took part in today's ceremony, said he has fought with Afghan National Army soldiers "shoulder to shoulder."

He said he looks "forward to the opportunity to serve again with the great soldiers of the ANA."

Prior to the regional commands, troops and units from the ANA's Central Corps, located in the Kabul region, were frequently deployed wherever needed around the country to carry out combat operations alongside the coalition in the east and south and to conduct security and stability operations in the west and north.

With the new regional commands and growing maturity of the ANA, there will be a command-and=control headquarters in each region of Afghanistan, as well as troops assigned to carry them out, military officials said.

The Gardez Regional Command will have an initial force of about 200 Afghan soldiers. However, military officials expect that number to grow to more than 3,000 soldiers.

Meanwhile, Olsen said, the regional command, along with building a permanent base camp, would "greatly improve the security in the region, thus allowing the people of this area to move toward a much brighter future."

That future, he said, is symbolized by the soldiers of the trained, professional and disciplined Afghan National Army who now man the new regional command, "each of whom vows on his graduation from training at the Kabul Military Training Center to serve the Afghan nation," he added. (Based on a Combined Forces Command Afghanistan release.)

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Related Sites:
Combined Forces Command Afghanistan

Click photo for screen-resolution imageU.S. Army Maj. William Wynn, assigned to the Office of Military Cooperation-Afghanistan, guides U.S. Marine Corps CH-53 helicopters to a roadside landing for a pickup near Gardez, Afghanistan. Photo by Sgt. Denise Schultz, USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMaj. Gen. Walizada, commanding general of the Afghan National Army's 203 Corps, salutes the Afghan national colors being presented to him by Afghan Defense Minister Fahim Khan at the Gardez Regional Command activation. Photo by Col. Randy Pullen, USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAn Afghan Ministry of Defense MI-8 helicopter flies over the ceremonial guard as it lands at the Gardez Regional Command's garrison location Sept. 22. Photo by Col. Randy Pullen, USA  
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