Allen Praises Troops’ Courage, Sets ISAF Priorities

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2011 — Much work remains to secure Afghanistan’s future and elim­i­nate vio­lent extrem­ists, the new com­man­der of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan said today in a let­ter to the men and women of the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force.

Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen addressed the sol­diers, sailors, air­men, Marines, Coast Guards­men and civil­ians of ISAF, prais­ing their courage under the most chal­leng­ing con­di­tions and set­ting out his pri­or­i­ties for uni­fied action.

“It will be my hon­or to serve with you all,” Allen hand­wrote at the bot­tom of the let­ter, which was post­ed on ISAF’s web­site. Allen assumed com­mand today, suc­ceed­ing Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, who is retir­ing from the Army and will be the next CIA direc­tor.

Allen said his pri­or­i­ties include con­tin­u­ing the relent­less pur­suit of the ene­my and accel­er­at­ing the work asso­ci­at­ed with devel­op­ing and field­ing the Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty forces.

“We will accel­er­ate our efforts to pro­tect the pop­u­la­tion and to attack and degrade insur­gent net­works,” he wrote. “As we sup­port the over­all effort, we will con­tin­ue to cap­ture and kill the ene­my and remove him from the field of bat­tle through rein­te­gra­tion.”

Allen said ISAF will pro­mote oppor­tu­ni­ties for sta­bi­liz­ing vil­lages and estab­lish­ing the Afghan local police. Work­ing with civil­ian part­ners, he added, ISAF will help to build capac­i­ty for gov­er­nance, eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment and the rule of law.

In the field, the gen­er­al said, Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty force for­ma­tions are grow­ing in size and con­fi­dence.

“Afghans are fight­ing for their coun­try, and we must facil­i­tate this every­where we can,” Allen said, “seek­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for Afghan lead­er­ship to step for­ward in their insti­tu­tions and in the field.”

Oth­er ISAF pri­or­i­ties include coor­di­nat­ing and coop­er­at­ing close­ly with Afghan part­ners to sup­port the tran­si­tion to Afghan forces hav­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty for their nation’s secu­ri­ty, and stay­ing inno­v­a­tive, agile and respon­sive as the cam­paign evolves, Allen wrote.

“When we have com­plet­ed the work of this cam­paign, Afghans will be in the lead in secu­ri­ty across the coun­try, secur­ing the final phase of tran­si­tion in 2014,” the gen­er­al said. “They will be pos­tured not only to pre­vent the return of extrem­ism and ter­ror­ism in Afghanistan, but also to achieve Afghanistan’s long-term secu­ri­ty require­ments.”

Allen told the troops that “now is the time to be ‘all in’ as we sup­port the pros­e­cu­tion of the cam­paign, the devel­op­ment and field­ing of the [Afghan forces] and the process of tran­si­tion.”

In addi­tion, being good stew­ards of the resources nations have entrust­ed to ISAF to achieve its mis­sion is the respon­si­bil­i­ty of every ISAF mem­ber, Allen wrote.

The gen­er­al remind­ed ISAF troops of why they’re in Afghanistan.

“The Afghan peo­ple wel­comed ISAF and its mem­bers into this ancient and his­toric land 10 years ago,” he wrote, “to help them remove a ruth­less and implaca­ble ene­my while pro­mot­ing con­di­tions for a sta­ble and peace­ful future.”

Tough days remain ahead, he added, “[but] I take heart in the deter­mi­na­tion and endurance of the free men and women of the 49 nations of ISAF who stand shoul­der to shoul­der — shohna ba shohna — with our Afghan part­ners to see this great endeav­or through to its suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion.”

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