KABUL, Afghanistan (Oct. 26, 2010) — The following prepared remarks were given by Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez during the Regional Command Capital Transfer of Authority ceremony Oct. 25.
Good afternoon. To begin today, I’d like to recognize the courageous people who fill the ranks of the Afghan National Army, the National Police, and National Directorate of Security, and the coalition forces, men and women who volunteer to fight and shed their blood to give hope to their afghan brothers, sisters, children, and future generations.
Thousands of dignitaries, heads of state, and leaders of armies come to kabul. Some ask about the Afghan National Security Forces, “can they fight?” Listen – they can fight. They are relentless. They are determined to win. And they get better every day. Stronger. More confident. More experienced and sure of themselves.
After last month’s elections, one Afghan Army soldier said, “The [enemy] tried … to stop the elections, but they failed… . We showed the world that we are powerful, we are in control, and we can defeat the enemy.”
- General Çolak – what a remarkable year it has been, especially here in Kabul.
- Security forces working with the government and the people.
- Consultative Peace Jurga in June.
- The Kabul Conference in July.
- And the national elections last month.
There have been tough moments. You remember the enemy attack in mid-January as President Karzai was swearing in his ministers. It was the Afghan National Security Forces – not the coalition – that rapidly came to the aid of their fellow Afghans. Security forces you helped train and prepare. Still, some wonder when the Afghan forces will start leading. In Kabul – and other places – they are leading. Right now.
Next month at the NATO Conference in Lisbon, we expect to see international agreement on the way ahead as Afghans increasingly take the lead in securing their country. That decision will represent the next step toward transition of security lead from coalition to Afghan forces in 2014, as President Karzai has determined.
We still have work to do between now and then. But if we want to know what transition might look like, then look at Kabul.
General Çolak– A year ago, we said that you have “a great understanding of where you and your partner Afghan National Security Forces need to go.” Indeed, you have helped lead them where they need to go – and further than we could have ever asked.
Your warriors serve the Afghan people with honor, dignity, great compassion, and professionalism.
Levent - today you end this tour of duty, but your personal commitment to the Afghan people goes back to the beginning of this campaign around 2002. And your example is a reflection of your own nation’s unyielding devotion to Afghanistan and its people – a century-old military tradition.
Whether here in Afghanistan or back in Turkey, the Turkish nation is focused on this important opportunity to help the afghan people succeed. And like Turkey, the coalition’s commitment to Afghanistan is an enduring one, and we are committed to help the afghan people for the long term. None should doubt that. Least of all, the enemy.
Those who believe the Afghan people will let their nation slip back to the death grip of insurgents fail to consider Afghan commitment and resilience.
General Çolak, farewell. Thank you. Safe journey home. God bless you and your family.
General Şaşmaz, welcome. There are many challenges ahead. And we look forward to overcoming them together with the vibrant partnerships this regional command enjoys. Good luck.