New Joint Task Force to Command U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (Corrected copy)
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 14, 2002 (Editor's note: Gen. Peter Pace's rank is corrected.)
An Army three-star general will assume command of a new joint task force that will consolidate operations in Afghanistan under one umbrella.
Joint Task Force Afghanistan is scheduled to stand up in Kandahar in late May or early June, Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said today in a Pentagon briefing.
U.S. Central Command chief Army Gen. Tommy Franks tapped Lt. Gen. Dan K. McNeill to head the new task force. McNeill currently commands XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Pace said Franks called for the establishment of the JTF to provide "on-scene command and control support" and to free himself to concentrate on other issues within CENTCOM.
"I think (establishing the JTF) allows him to spend perhaps a little more time on the rest of his region," Pace said of Franks.
McNeill will take "less than 500" troops with him to establish the JTF headquarters. Pace explained many of these service members will come from McNeill's airborne corps staff with additions from other military services to make the organization joint.
Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke stressed the establishment of a joint task force doesn't signal a permanent U.S. presence in Afghanistan. "We have made it so clear at every step of the way that we'll stay as long as it takes to get the job done, but we have no desire to stay one day longer," she said.