HERAT, Afghanistan (October 15, 2015) — International partners from Australia, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and the United States met with Afghan government officials Oct. 12 - 14 at Train Advise Assist Command-West to plan the transition of Herat Airfield from a strategic coalition hub to a center for commercial economic development.
M. Daud Sultanzoy, chairman of the recently-decreed Afghan Airfield Economic Development Commission, was welcomed to Camp Arena by Italian Maj. Gen. Mario Ruggiero, Deputy Chief of Staff for Support, Resolute Support Mission, to prepare for the transition of the base and airfield to the Afghan government.
“The turnover of these airfields from the coalition is important for economic success in Afghanistan,” said Sultanzoy.
Herat, a location key to accessing Iran and Turkmenistan, is a prime location for shuttling commerce in and out of Afghanistan. Sultanzoy and other Afghan leaders received a tour of the base, with a focus on the airfield’s five essential functions: air traffic control, fire rescue, navigational aids, safety management and meteorological support.
Coalition partners are addressing both security and economic development through the transition of the airfields in Afghanistan. As the number of military forces continue to wind down since the transition to a train, advise and assist role, some facilities used by coalition forces become excess. Airfield economic development ensures that the Afghan government will not be facing an unsustainable burden due to dormant structures. It also can provide the Afghan national defense and security forces millions in savings on operations and maintenance, as well as security costs and resources.
Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan works with Sultanzoy and Ministries of Defense and Interior leaders to ensure the responsible handover.
Personnel from Train Advise Assist Commands North and South also participated in the three-day planning session to prepare for the transition of their respective bases. American and Italian leadership from Train Advise Assist Command-West provided insight into the preparations required to facilitate a successful transfer.
U.S. Army Col. Stephen Lutsky, Deputy Commander, Train Advise Assist Command-West, who is overseeing the transition at Camp Arena, encouraged early coalition preparation to set the stage for the upcoming transitions, emphasizing proactive engagement with Afghan counterparts to determine what structures and facilities should remain versus the normal deconstruction method common to previous base transfers.
“Security in Afghanistan requires economic development, and economic development requires security,” said Ruggiero. “A strategic, responsible handover of bases accomplishes both objectives.”