Afghanistan — Helmand Governor, U.S. Commander Honor Fallen, Families

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2010 — Afghan and U.S. lead­ers in Afghanistan’s Hel­mand province end­ed a detailed assess­ment of progress in the region on a somber note today.
“On Decem­ber 7, Pearl Har­bor day, I’d like to remem­ber all the fam­i­lies back home. I know what we do out here comes at a great cost, and comes with great sor­row for many fam­i­lies,” Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills, the Region­al Com­mand South­west com­man­der, told Pen­ta­gon reporters from Camp Leath­er­neck, in Hel­mand province.

Region­al Com­mand South­west was estab­lished June 14 to over­see coali­tion oper­a­tions in Hel­mand and Nim­ruz provinces. Join­ing Mills in today’s brief­ing was Gulab Man­gal, Hel­mand provin­cial gov­er­nor since March 2008.

“It’s easy some­times to sit here and to move forces around, and to not under­stand some­times the human cost involved,” Mills said. “I do under­stand it. I do com­mis­er­ate. I do send my high­est sym­pa­thies to the fam­i­lies, the friends, the spous­es, the chil­dren of the many Marines and sol­diers who have made the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice for their coun­try over here.” Mills said Afghan and coali­tion forces also have paid a high price for the gains achieved.

“The sac­ri­fice made by the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces toward their own secu­ri­ty is tremen­dous, and they do that very, very will­ing­ly, and they fight along­side us very, very hard,” the gen­er­al said.

Mills said the Unit­ed King­dom, Den­mark and Esto­nia, all of which con­tribute troops to Region­al Com­mand South­west, “have sent their very best for­ward. Their young­sters, who absolute­ly rep­re­sent the best our coun­tries have to offer.”

His multi­na­tion­al force of Marines and sol­diers go for­ward to bat­tle know­ing the risks, Mills said.

“On a dai­ly basis, they pick up their equip­ment, they pick up their weapon, they strap it on and they go out­side the wire into an envi­ron­ment that is extra­or­di­nar­i­ly lethal, extra­or­di­nar­i­ly dan­ger­ous,” the gen­er­al said. “The wounds inflict­ed are often hor­rif­ic. Yet they go for­ward with a sense of courage and a sense of com­mit­ment that is absolute­ly awe­some. I salute each and every one of them.”

“I would like to send my best wish­es to their fam­i­lies — and my deep­est, deep­est sym­pa­thies to all the fam­i­lies who have lost peo­ple in this war, of any nation­al­i­ty,” he added. Man­gal, speak­ing through an inter­preter, also expressed his sor­row to the fam­i­lies of those who have died in the war.

“I … appre­ci­ate the sac­ri­fices that [Unit­ed States] and NATO forces have made in Afghanistan, specif­i­cal­ly in Hel­mand province, as a result of which the res­i­dents … are enjoy­ing good secu­ri­ty, and they see sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive changes in their lives,” Man­gal said.

“I would like to share my con­do­lences with the peo­ple of the Unit­ed States for sus­tain­ing these loss­es, and also … to the peo­ple of Eng­land, and the fam­i­lies of those sol­diers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan,” the gov­er­nor con­tin­ued. “Also for those Dan­ish sol­diers and Eston­ian sol­diers who have lost their lives.

“I would like to say thank you … [for] all the efforts that all the nations have made in order to bring these changes in Afghanistan,” Man­gal added.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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