Afghan National Security Forces, coalition hold future strategy forum

US Marine Corps News

10/17/2011 By Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Snodgrass, II MEF (FWD)

CAMP SHORABAK, Afghanistan — Afghan National Security Forces and local political leaders held a two-star general officer-level meeting with coalition forces, Sept. 26, at Camp Shorabak, Helmand province.

The meeting provided an opportunity for key Afghan and coalition leaders to discuss the development milestones required to further shape security strategies in Helmand province. The Afghan and coalition leaders examined where their strengths and weaknesses are with their security policies and how they can improve them.

Maj. General John A. Toolan, commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) Regional Command Southwest, addressed the forum, and assured the ANSF leaders coalition forces are there to support them.

“The purpose today is to discuss some examples of how Afghan National Security Forces can increase security in Helmand province,” said Toolan during his remarks. “This will probably be the last time coalition forces lead these discussions before Afghan National Security Forces take the lead. I look forward to seeing what their vision is for the future and what we need to do as partners as they take the lead and we fall back in support.”

Toolan also praised the ANSF for their progress and their commitment to increasing security in Helmand, province.

“I have witnessed in my short time here, some tremendous feats of bravery by the Afghans in these security forces,” said Toolan. “I feel very confident that the Afghan National Security Forces are doing a tremendous job and are dedicated to our mission.”

“The Afghans have done a tremendous job over the last year,” added Australian army Maj. Gen. Michael Krause, deputy chief of Staff Plans at HQ ISAF Joint Command. “They’ve taken the fight to the enemy. They’ve shown me that they’re capable of doing anything.”

The meeting allowed ANSF leaders to discuss their long-term goals with coalition force commanders. These strategy meetings are held about once every three months, which means many topics must be covered while all the ANSF and coalition force leaders are present.

“We knew it was important to have a forum by which all the senior Afghan leaders could discuss future plans with Gen. Toolan and his major subordinate commanders and from this, we can plan the things the Afghans need to get accomplished to be able to take over responsibility for security in Helmand province,” said Col. Mike Brown, director of ANSF development for RC(SW).

The meeting also helped coalition and leaders understand the capabilities and limitations of the ANSF.

“These meetings help us adapt our thinking to their way of doing things which gives us a deeper appreciation for what we need to do for them,” said Brown.

Toolan emphasized his confidence in the ANSF ability to take over security for themselves in Helmand province.

“We’re in a process of drawdown of forces, and we need to take a look at making sure our Afghan partners are fully ready to take the lead in many areas,” he said. “I’m very confident that the Afghan National Security Forces can take the lead. We have about three years left to work together, shoulder to shoulder and we will be there to help them develop their own capabilities until they can stand alone.”

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