Updated: 12-Aug-2003 NATO Speeches


11 Aug. 2003


by Lt. General Gliemeroth
Commander ISAF 4

Moderator: The formal transfer of command will now take place. Could I invite the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, General Jones, Lt. General Van Heyst and Lt. General Gliemeroth to the podium. The formal change of command between ISAF 3 and ISAF 4 will be represented by the handing of the ISAF flag from Lt. General Van Heyst to Lt. General Gliemeroth. Change of Command takes place.

Lt. General Gliemeroth: Mr. President, Ministers, Excellencies, distinguished guests and, of course, comrades. First of all, thank you General Van Heyst for handing over the mission to me. I am grateful to command ISAF 4 and appreciate the trust and confidence placed in my soldiers and me. I not only speaking here for HQ, ISAF or myself, no I am speaking on behalf of all ISAF soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines, and, of course, civilians down to the youngest trooper. Without doubt NATO’s takeover of the ISAF demonstrates our nations’ long term commitment to security, stability and the further development for the Afghan people. Not only will this mean a wider coalition of forces involved, it also stands for enhanced continuity provided by the Alliance through the subsequent strategic and operational guidance plus substantial resources. And all that of course in accordance with the Bonn process and United Nations security resolutions.

And also, ISAF’s main mission will not change. NATO will operate under the ISAF banner and under an unchanged UN mandate, i.e. to assist the transitional authority in providing a secure environment. How else could adequate humanitarian aid, improvement of infrastructure as well as other reconstruction projects for the improvement of living conditions, take place. All in all for the benefit of the people of this proud nation. No doubt, we ISAF soldiers, yes, we are foreigners in your country. But although being foreign, we are serving to foster a peaceful, prosperous and truly multi-ethnic Afghanistan. And please let me emphasize that I can promise you that ISAF will continue to honor your cultural identity and respect for your rich traditions. Our operation in Afghanistan, as you know, is part of a larger coordinated international effort in order to assist you, Mr. President and your cabinet. This means not only providing security in the streets of this city but ISAF will continue to improve the federal security structures and means since Kabul and its environment must be safe for all in order to function as the national capital. Not the least a fully functional, safely operated Kabul international airport ought to be a viable, visible symbol of success and potential progress.

In addition to supporting the Afghan transitional authority in its responsibility for providing security throughout the country, ISAF will continue within its mandate to assist the build up and training of respective Afghan security forces, like the police force and the border police, and to some extent, of course, an Afghan national army. Related to all of these efforts we all in this room are fully aware of the fundamental importance of the Constitutional Loya Jirga ahead and the subsequent elections. In order to fulfill ISAF’s mission I will strive for the closest possible links to the Afghan authorities, the UN and its agencies, and of course to all of the other key players in this environment. I will personally try to get more acquainted with this beautiful country, so rich in culture and history. And, of course, we will continue to further develop policies and approaches that were created by ISAF 3. In this context I would like to congratulate General Van Heyst on his outstanding achievements. Furthermore, I thank you Norbert for your team, your advise and your assistance. Ladies and gentlemen, today a new contingent of soldiers takes charge. And here again I am speaking of 31 countries. You can be sure that we understand the challenges ahead. And will through dedication and competence accomplish our mission. And I have no doubt that are assistance will turn out successfully for the benefit of Afghanistan.

Thank you for your attention.

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