11 Mar 2007

PR# 2007-173

Corps commanders convene at Herat conference

KABUL, Afghanistan - Corps commanders of the Afghan National Army (ANA) convened March 7 in Herat for a three-day conference to discuss mission objectives, new goals and current obstacles.

General Dan McNeill, International Security Assistance Force commander, attended the conference and listened to proposals to restructure the corps, added words of praise for their progress and offered insight on how to achieve success in ANA organization.

“A hallmark of a good army is its flexibility and ability to adapt to its surrounding environment,” Gen McNeill said. “Make decisions that will help you fight terrorists successfully and you will always be in the right. If it means moving an entire brigade, then do it.”

The ANA is creating a new schedule for active duty, training and liberal leave. This plan is designed to help reduce desertion rates and motivate soldiers to stay with their companies by allowing them time to visit their families and serve in areas closer to their homes. In an address to the corps commanders and mentors, Afghan General Bismullah Khan, ANA General Staff chief of staff, explained the need for the new schedule.

“In the ANA, we have a commitment to each other,” Gen Khan said. “If the soldiers can learn to follow orders and do what we ask, then we must do what we can to care for our subordinates, which means finding a better way for our men to serve their country.”

“Too often, the men who go (absent without leave) come back to us on their own. They know this is a good choice of lifestyle and they just miss their old way of life,” Khan said. “It is our job to make their choice as a soldier easier.”

McNeill agrees that steps like the new structure plan have enabled the ANA to grow into a strong and reliable security force.

“In 2002, your military was only a band of militias,” he said. “Now five years later, you are emerging as a real army prepared to take on increasing responsibility. Although the generosity of the international alliance has helped, the Afghans’ sacrifices are responsible for most of the progress you have made.”

In a parting speech, Gen Khan praised the corps commanders for their hard work in helping the ANA emerge as a reliable security force.

“The ANA has been extremely successful,” he said. “We continue to be successful because of the commitment of everyone to strengthen our country. The soldiers and officers are the reason why we’re so strong today.”

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/