25 Mar 2007

PR# 2007-231

ISAF, ANSF troops welcome the New Year

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Food and dancing surrounded members of Afghan and ISAF forces who had gathered in the spirit of cooperation and new beginnings to celebrate Now Ruz at the Kandahar International Airport, March 23.

The New Year celebration hosted by the government of Kandahar, supported by the Regional Command-South and U.S. National Command Element, offered a chance for both sides to express gratitude and hope as the nation continues to move forward. 

“On behalf of the [Afghan National Army] 205th Corps, we wish to say happy New Year to all Afghans. We will pray for peace and prosperity in this New Year, and we fight to continue to do the best for our people and the future of our country,” said Maj. Gen. Rahmatullah Raufi, 205th ANA Corps commander.

Addressing a rise in security and countering the insurgency while moving forward with reconstruction efforts and humanitarian assistance will remain at the heart of joint efforts by Coalition and Afghan forces this year, he added. 

“I’ve been impressed by the determination of the people of Afghanistan, who have chosen the path of reconciliation rather than the path of hate and destruction. I am speaking of those Afghans who today stand together to build a bolder Afghanistan for themselves and future generations,” said RC-South Commander Maj. Gen. Ton van Loon.

“As we launch into this New Year, I feel that it is important to accept that we have many challenges remaining ahead, and that we will continue to work diligently toward peace and reconciliation.  But, this evening, it is equally important to look at our accomplishments and our successes as a reminder that we are, indeed, making progress,” van Loon said.

Recent joint efforts include emergency assistance offered to hundreds of residents of Uruzgan Province during floods, as well as the launch and maintenance of RC-South-led Operation Achilles. The focus of the operation is on improving security to facilitate reconstruction and development in areas where Taliban extremists, narcotic-traffickers and other elements are trying to destabilize the Afghan government.

“As ISAF and Afghan relations continue to strengthen in the New Year, the government of Kandahar Province can continue its intended path toward peace, stability and prosperity knowing it has the support of the International Security Assistance Forces,” said Sqn Ldr Dave Marsh, Regional Command – South spokesman.

“There is progress being made in the way that ANSF troops and ISAF military personnel from dozens of countries have successfully learned to work together to defeat our common enemy.  Together, we are allowing the people of Afghanistan to live their lives without the influence of extremists who intimidate them,” van Loon said.  “Let this celebration be an opportunity for all of us to pray together for security, peace, and prosperity for all who live in this beautiful country of Afghanistan.”

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/