03 March 2003
Officers of a Dozen Countries Thanked for Anti-Terror Activities
(Pentagon salutes their countries' efforts in global anti-terror
By Jacquely S. Porth
Washington File Security Affairs Correspondent
Washington -- Military officers from a dozen countries stood
side-by-side on the Pentagon dais -- blending the colors of khaki,
blue, olive and red, black and white, plus military camouflage -- as a
symbol of international unity against terrorism.
The 12 men are assigned as their countries' representatives to the
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in Tampa, Florida, where military
aspects of the global anti-terror campaign are carefully coordinated.
They come from Jordan, New Zealand, Norway, Kuwait, Italy, Germany,
Djibouti, the Czech Republic, Spain, Turkey, Japan and the Republic of
Korea (ROK). And last week they traveled to the Pentagon to receive an
official thank-you from the highest-ranking leadership of the U.S.
They met February 28 with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his
deputy, Paul Wolfowitz. Rumsfeld thanked each of them individually
"for the wonderful relationship" they have with the United States.
Wolfowitz publicly shook each officer's hand after pointing out that
the coalition that solidly formed against terrorism following the
September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington is larger now
than the one that liberated Kuwait from Iraq in 1991. "And the
coalition continues to grow," he said.
Wolfowitz said each country had carried out "incredible feats of
humanitarian assistance." He highlighted Jordan's medical assistance
through the hospital it established in Masar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan,
where critical wounds and chronic illnesses are treated, as well as
the anti-personnel landmine-clearing efforts undertaken by the
Jordanian military in that country.
The deputy secretary pointed to Spain's maritime assistance, noting
especially its help with the Navy's recent interdiction of Scud
missiles destined for Yemen. Wolfowitz also noted Spain's demining
He cited South Korea for its transportation, medical and humanitarian
contributions in Afghanistan.
Wolfowitz took note of Kuwait's contribution to rebuilding
Afghanistan, expressing the hope that Afghanistan would never again be
a haven for terrorism.
When Afghanistan is finally, fully on its feet, the deputy secretary
said, the world would see that the U.S. goal there was liberation and
A number of the military officers who received the Defense
Department's gratitude spoke to members of the Pentagon press corps
about the importance of their country's contribution to the worldwide
Army Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Robleh of Djibouti said Afghanistan
was "totally destroyed" by the time it was liberated from the Taliban.
Robleh, who served in Haiti as part of Operation Uphold Democracy,
says it's now up to the international community to rebuild
Afghanistan. Even though no one talks about Djibouti's contribution of
use of its port facilities and overflight and basing rights, he said
"we're doing something very, very important." He also described his
country as a safe haven for those who are fighting the war on
New Zealand Navy Commodore Tony Parr said all the coalition
representatives -- who serve at CENTCOM for periods ranging from six
months to a year -- are kept "very well informed" on a daily basis
about the twists and turns of the anti-terror campaign.
Jordan's Air Force Colonel Yousef Ahmad Hamed Alnaity noted that his
country was the first to join the U.S. military's anti-terror effort,
Operation Enduring Freedom, and to send representatives to CENTCOM.
Since Afghanistan's infrastructure was so badly destroyed, he said it
was clear that a surgical hospital was needed. Since its
establishment, the Jordanian-run hospital has conducted more than
2,200 operations, he said.
Also, since Afghanistan has such a high density of landmines in the
ground, Colonel Alnaity said Jordan deployed an "Aardvark" mine
clearing unit in Qandahar. Since its deployment, he said, 270,000
square meters of land have been cleared of mines in Qandahar and
German Brigadier General Hanslothar Domroese said the Afghan people
are facing a "tremendous mine threat" from a highly sophisticated mine
planting operation. It is especially insidious, he said, because mines
are hampering food distribution operations. He also warned that "newly
planted" mines are going into the ground every day.
Spanish Navy Rear Admiral Gonzalo Rodriguez talked about his country's
training program for deminers in Madrid. More than 70 Afghan National
Army deminers have been trained and another 27 have been selected for
Rodriquez said Spain views the war on terrorism as a long-term effort.
"We will win only if we remain united and persevere," he said.
South Korean Army Brigadier General Jong Ho Choe said the ROK just
sent 150 military engineers to Bagram, where they will be assigned to
road and airstrip reconstruction projects. He said his government has
provided the Afghan government with computers and vehicles to help it
get back on its feet. It has pledged $45 million over three years, he
Kuwaiti Army Lieutenant Colonel Fahed al-Shelaimi pointed with pride
to a 48-nation coalition that is helping to rebuild Afghanistan.
Fighting terrorism is not only about deploying troops but also
involves rebuilding a nation destroyed by terrorism, he said.
Al-Shelaimi, who chairs the Humanitarian Assistance Working Group
(HAWG) at CENTCOM, which is tasked with directing donations to the
right people in Afghanistan, said humanitarian assistance is an
important factor in any conflict or post-conflict situation.
With so much attention focused recently on the showdown with Iraq,
al-Shelaimi said it is important to reinvigorate the reconstruction
effort in Afghanistan. At the same time that Afghan President Karzai
was soliciting assistance from Congress and other elements of the U.S.
government, the Kuwaiti military officer said a dedicated coalition is
working steadily to help the Afghans recover and forge ahead.
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
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