US Forces Afghanistan
December 20, 2008
Release Number 20082012-03
Major General Cone relinquishes command of CSTC-A to Major General Formica
KABUL, Afghanistan - Major General Richard P. Formica took command of
Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan December 18, becoming
CSTC-A’s third commanding general. Major General Formica relieved Major
General Robert W. Cone, who returns to the United States after an
General David McKiernan, commander, International Security Assistance
Force, and commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, presided over the
ceremony at the Kabul International Airport. The ceremony was conducted
in partnership with the Afghan Ministry of Defense and Ministry of
Interior. General McKiernan awarded Major General Cone with the Bronze
Star Medal prior to the ceremony.
General McKiernan congratulated Major General Cone for the significant
progress made during his tenure.
"Winning in Afghanistan is about building Afghan capability," said
General McKiernan. "CSTC-A is at the forefront of building a
professional Afghan National Security Force."
General McKiernan credited Major General Cone with assisting the Afghan
National Army’s expansion by 26,000 Soldiers in the last year, tripling
the growth rate of previous years. He said the ANA now leads more than
60 percent of the operations it participates in.
In August, the international community and the Afghan government
approved plans to grow the Afghan National Army to 134,000 Soldiers.
Currently, 68,000 Soldiers are assigned, and Major General Cone and ANA
officials have created plans to get to the 134,000 goal by the end of
General McKiernan said Major General Cone was the driving force in the
training of Afghanistan’s National Police. Just in the last year,
CSTC-A, under Major General Cone’s command, trained 25,000 police -
nearly a third of its current force of 76,000. Major General Cone
engineered the highly successful Focused District Development program,
which reforms an entire police district at one time. The resulting
reformed districts have proven effective in providing security for the
Also under Major General Cone’s leadership, the Combined Air Power Task
Force and 438th Air Expeditionary Wing assisted in developing the Afghan
National Army Air Corps, which now flies 90 percent of its own missions.
The ANAAC transports the Afghan National Army and Afghan National
Police, as well as cargo, providing counterinsurgency power and mobility
on the Afghan battlefield.
Major General Cone reflected on his experience in his closing speech
during the ceremony, saying he came to Afghanistan focused on the
mission of building the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National
"We’ve made great progress on the mission as the Afghan army and police
have evolved to the forefront of forces protecting the Afghan nation,"
Major General Cone said. "But it is the friendships I have made with the
wonderful people that I will always remember."
Major General Formica also congratulated Major General Cone for the work
accomplished under his leadership.
"CSTC-A has a well-earned reputation for success," said Major General
Formica to the Afghan and coalition guests. "It has been well-served by
Major General Bob Cone, and its ranks are filled with talented and
Major General Formica said he looks forward to partnering with the
Ministries of Defense and Interior and with the Soldiers and police of
the Afghan National Security Force.
"Together, we will build capability and capacity to defeat our common
enemy," Major General Formica said, "and to forge unity of effort to
achieve our important objectives: the establishment of security and
stability in Afghanistan."
The new CSTC-A commander’s prior tour of duty was Director of Force
Management, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff. He said he plans to
carry forward Major General Cone’s initiatives in the months ahead.
In an interview following the ceremony, Major General Formica said, "I
intend to continue the great work that has already gone on. There are a
lot of great programs already in place for the Afghan National Army and
the Afghan National Police, and we will continue to sustain and build
Major General Formica said a priority will be to grow the ANA and ANP as
quickly and as responsibly as possible.
"We also know that the challenges ahead involve how fast we can grow a
credible force," Major General Formica said. "And one of the challenges
will be to accelerate the growth for the army and the police - without
sacrificing standards - while we ensure capable formations to fight and
defeat the enemy."
Major General Formica, who is originally from Cheshire, Connecticut, was
commissioned in 1977 upon completion of ROTC at Providence College and
graduation from Bryant College in Smithfield, Rhode Island. His career
includes field artillery commands from battery to Corps as well as
critical staff assignments. Major General Formica served on the Joint
Staff as the Assistant, then Acting, Deputy Director for
Politico-Military Affairs (Europe), J-5, Washington, D.C. He also served
as the Commanding General, Force Field Artillery Headquarters and Joint
Fires and Effects Coordinator for Multi-National Corps-Iraq from January
2004 to February 2005.