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Dempsey encouraged after Afghanistan visit

Published: 04:02PM April 26th, 2012
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D. Myles Cullen

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey (left) meets with Commander of the NATO Training Mission — Afghanistan Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday. D. Myles Cullen

BRUSSELS — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrapped up a two-day visit to Afghanistan Tuesday and said he’s encouraged by what he saw and heard there.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told American Forces Press Service while en route here for a meeting of NATO defense chiefs that he was especially impressed by Monday’s visit to NATO Training Mission Afghanistan’s Special Forces Training Center at Camp Morehead in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

“I spent the better part of the day with the (Afghan) commandos and special forces and my counterpart, General (Sher Mohammad) Karimi, just to get their sense of how they feel about themselves,” the chairman said, noting that he also talked with the U.S. service members who mentor them. “I was encouraged on a couple of fronts.

“Their self-esteem is increasing,” he said. “They’re very proud. They’ve got not only a good equipping and training model, but they’re building in a sense of purpose and values to the force. ... That part of the force is part of it that I hadn’t really confronted before, and I found it to be very capable, and, I think, moving apace to become a very important part of their security apparatus.”

During his Afghanistan visit, Dempsey met with Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, to seek his perspective on the drawdown of U.S. forces.

“It’s going well,” the chairman said. “He’s presented his plan to us now for the drawdown of 23,000 between now and the end of September. And he reported to me that he can accomplish that task and continue to execute the campaign plan to get us to the objectives that were articulated in Lisbon.”

NATO’s heads of state and government agreed at their November 2010 summit in the Portuguese capital that security responsibility for all of Afghanistan will transfer to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014. They’ll meet next month in Chicago to set the course from that point on.

The drawdown does present some logistics challenges, the general noted.

“We’re trying to recover equipment after 10 years of war in that country,” he said. “So we’ve got some challenges ahead; there are a lot of moving pieces. We’re moving our forces around, and they’re moving their forces around, and we’re looking for ways to manage that transition. And it’s all achievable.”

Dempsey praised U.S. military logisticians for their track record in meeting difficult challenges, noting that U.S. Transportation Command and all military logisticians always find a way to get the job done.

“TRANSCOM is unbelievable,” he said. “I remember back in Desert Storm being impressed by what our logisticians accomplished. But these logisticians today are setting a new standard.”