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Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan welcomes new commander

By By Lt. j.g. Charity Edgar, Resolute Support Headquarters

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Oct. 1, 2015 — KABUL, Afghanistan (October 1, 2015) – Maj. Gen. Todd T. Semonite passed on the unit colors to Maj. Gen. Gordon 'Skip' Davis at the Combined Security Transition Command–Afghanistan change of command at Resolute Support Headquarters, Oct. 1.

Semonite concluded a 13-month tour that Gen. John F. Campbell, commander, Resolute Support, said was marked with many achievements.

“Todd is known for a lot of things, especially his passion, high energy level and deep thinking,” said Campbell. “He is especially focused on his “Top 10” initiatives. These initiatives span a wide range of functions and involve developments within doctrine, organizations, training, materiel, personnel and facilities for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. However, none of it is possible without his outstanding leadership underpinning it all.”

Campbell went on to highlight key programs Semonite and his team worked on in the past year, including development of an electronic pay system, a redesigned national procurement policy and Afghan airfield economic development, an initiative which can bolster security while boosting economic development. Campbell also noted Semonite’s role in developing and preparing for the transition to the Defense Security Cooperation Mission–Afghanistan, the U.S. headquarters successor following the completion of the Resolute Support Mission.

During Semonite’s remarks, the outgoing commander thanked Campbell for the opportunity to serve under his command.

“Your personal leadership and commitment to both the International Security Assistance Force and Resolute Support staffs, as well as the people of Afghanistan, is truly amazing. I speak for all the coalition when I say that no one could have led us better,” said Semomite.

Semonite also thanked his Afghan colleagues in attendance, including Minister of Interior Noorulhaq Uloomi and Deputy Minister of Security Gen. Mohammad Ayub Salangi, for their partnership.

“I cherished my time with you and was excited to lead CSTC-A [in order to] to help you support the warfighter and build strategic capacity,” said Semonite. “You have made phenomenal progress in budgetary programming, pay, personnel and force structure systems...improving accountability while finding savings in the budget.”

Semonite noted that despite threats to Afghanistan that challenge security, the country is well-postured for continued stability and long-term sustainability.

“Today I am just glad I had a small role in helping set the conditions for your success, and look forward to working ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with you again soon,” he said.

Semonite thanked his team of international service members, civilians and contractors for their work supporting the Afghan Ministries of Interior and Defense.

“I have tried to instill the ethic from [Afghan] President Ghani shortly after I took command over a year ago that CSTC-A and the Resolute Support team’s legacy will not be guns and ammo, but systems and processes. You have internalized that ethic and our Afghan partners are a better force because of it,” said Semonite.

He told his team that he knew they were in good hands with Davis, a 34-year U.S. Army veteran, who was most recently assigned to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe as Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations and Intelligence.

Davis thanked Campbell for his trust and confidence to lead CSTC-A. He recognized his predecessor for a smooth transition of a “high-performing, mission-focused and values-based team.” He stressed his enthusiasm to returning to Afghanistan to lead CSTC-A.

“I am thrilled to be joining the NATO-led Resolute Support and CSTC-A teams, and to be working again with Afghan Army and Police leaders at such a critical time for this nation.”

Davis expressed his commitment to the mission and Afghanistan, first in Dari, then in English.

“I will be your strongest supporter, but I will be demanding, and I will challenge you,” said Davis. “I believe in this country. I believe in the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. And I believe in your success.”