by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the occasion of his visit to Train Advise and Assist Command - South (TAAC-S) in Kandahar
Thank you General Gabram and Senior Civilian Representative, Dr Oliver.
And thanks so much to all of you. For welcoming me here. And for taking some time to let me talk with you tonight.
It is a privilege to be here for the first time as the Secretary General of NATO. I have visited Afghanistan in the past as Prime Minister of Norway.
But I wanted to come back as soon as possible after taking up my new post. This time I represent the 28 NATO Allies. And the many partners from across the world that have stood with us here in Kandahar and throughout Afghanistan.
On behalf of all the 50 nations that have made up this successful coalition, let me say thank you. This is my first and most important message.
Thank you for the dedicated service that you are doing here, each and every day. I know that some of you have deployed to Afghanistan more than once.
You have done your duty with great courage and professionalism. And as we prepare to complete our ISAF mission, I am very proud to be here to honor your service.
I have also come here to pay particular tribute to all those who gave their lives in the course of their duties. We honor their sacrifice.
We keep in our thoughts those who have been injured. And we are grateful to your families, and the families of all our great
servicemen and women.
This has been, and remains, a tough mission. I have heard from you how challenging it has been, especially here in the South. But I also heard of the remarkable progress that has been made.
You have helped to build up capable Afghan national security forces and given the Afghan people a chance for a better the future. And you have made our nations safer.
Throughout the thirteen years of our mission, we have stood united. And we will stand united in seeing the mission through.
Together, with the Afghan forces who have depended on you. Learned from you. And will continue to look to you for support, as they take full responsibility for their country’s security at the end of the year.
Earlier today, I had very good meetings with President Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah. I stressed the importance of their partnership to lead this country toward a secure and prosperous future.
I told them that we remain committed to our partnership with Afghanistan.
That is why we will launch our new mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces in January. This opens a new chapter in our partnership. Based on mutual commitment.
The Resolute Support Mission and the international financial assistance to help sustain the Afghan Security Forces are one side of the coin. On the other side is the requirement for the Afghan government to keep its commitments.
To deliver better governance, to preserve and expand progress on human rights and to stamp out corruption.
You have played a vital role in Afghanistan in making a better future possible.
So let me once again thank you for letting me be with you today and thank you for your service.