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Afghan officials ‘very grateful’ for military’s efforts in region

Published: 10:39AM January 10th, 2013

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Special guest, Maj. Gen. Robert B. Abrams, shared a personal dinner with Haji Tor Jan New Year’s Eve. The farewell dinner was in honor of the outgoing commander of 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Lt. Col. Patrick Michaelis.

Tor Jan owns the land of U.S. Military Camp Nathan Smith and resides inside the Afghan Uniform Police and school compound.

Tor Jan and Aktar Mohamed, an Afghan powerbroker, told Abrams that Michaelis was like a brother to them. “I have heard great things about Haji Tor Jan from Michaelis and I want to know from the men in Kandahar Province concepts for a better Kandahar in the future,” Abrams said.

Haji Hakeem, also an Afghan powerbroker, said the security situation in Kandahar City has greatly improved and will continue to improve with the help of the U.S. military.

“We are very grateful for the changes the U.S. military has done for the people of Afghanistan in schools and security,” Hakeem said through a translator.

Mohamed called the Afghan Local Police “a great program” that has been effective in removing insurgents from villages. He said U.S. support of fuel and close air support have been helpful to the Afghan National Security Forces against the insurgents.

Abrams, Tor Jan, Hakeem, Mohamed, and Michaelis took questions as part of the ceremony. Tor Jan addressed the recent release of 83 insurgent prisoners in the North as an example of Taliban bad faith and its not following through on peace statements despite acts of good faith from ANS and U.S. forces.

Tor Jan said he is considering running for president in the 2014 elections, to which Abrams replied he would be honored to dine with the next president of Afghanistan.

“It is of the upmost importance that the election is fair and open,” Abrams said of the election.

Tor Jan ended the remarks by observing that Michaelis had done a great job and suggested Abrams promote him to full colonel. Abrams replied, “He is already on that path.”

Also attending the meeting were Lt. Col. Kevin Wallace, commander of 6th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division; and Capt. Kelly Hasselman, commander of the Female Engagement Team and Sgt. 1st Class Severine Banks, acting first sergeant of the FET.