By Sgt. Timothy Dinneen, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
Feb. 9, 2007 – The new commander and top enlisted soldier of Combined Joint Task Force 76 emphasized their commitment to success In Afghanistan at a news conference here yesterday. Army Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Capel used the news conference as an opportunity to speak to the Afghan people about continued security in Regional Command East.
"We will succeed and further the cause through security, economic development and the overall recovery of the Afghan people," Rodriguez said. "We will do all we can to stimulate economic development while preserving Afghan traditions."
Rodriguez acknowledged there is still much work to do for Afghanistan to recover from 25 years of war and that this recovery is complicated by the actions of those who sabotage coalition efforts.
"Everything we do is in support of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and we are committed to seeing the Afghan government succeed," Rodriguez said.
Although economic prosperity of the Afghan people is a central pillar to the success of the coalition mission, many Afghan citizens are worried that the threat of a Taliban offensive this spring may hinder construction and humanitarian aid.
"The Taliban have been claiming a spring offensive the past six and a half years, while the government of Afghanistan has been rebuilding the country the past six and a half years," Capel said. "The Afghan people and the Afghan security forces have made great progress moving in the direction of freedom."
Capel noted that the majority of 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers in the task force are returning to Afghanistan from previous deployments. He said the disciplined paratroopers know the area and the people, giving them an unmatched experience level and allowing them to accomplish any mission.
"Over the past 12 months we have taken the fight to the enemy, and the result is they have not met any of their objectives -- not one," Capel said. "We are going to continue to support the people and their government while fighting the global war on terror, building and training the Afghan national security force."
Rodriguez said coalition forces won't wait for security to be perfect to continue reconstruction. But the more the Afghan people become part of the coalition team in improving security, he added, the more building can be done.
The 82nd Airborne Division, which Rodriguez commands, assumed command of CJTF 76 in Afghanistan on Feb. 2.
(Army Sgt. Timothy Dinneen is assigned to Combined Joint Task Force 76 Public Affairs.)
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