Stars and Stripes has published a December 31, 2009 interview with Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the first Commander of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command.
Lt. Gen. Rodriguez emphasizes:
- creating and linking secure zones to give Afghan people an environment in which to thrive, work, and prosper
- engaging in relationship-building to gain the people's trust and incite widespread development
- work closely at all levels of government to encourage good governance practices and instill sense of local ownership over the situation
Rodriguez defines victory in Afghanistan:
"Victory [...] is an Afghanistan that can govern itself well enough to prevent the rise of extremism [...] [Y]ou have to have security forces that can secure the people, [...] a government that can provide for the basic services and take care of its people, and then [...] a people that have a belief in and confidence that their government and their security forces can take care of them and is going to provide them an opportunity for their future."
Explanation of "Embedding":
"We [...] partner all the way up at our level so [...] we have people from the Minister of Interior, Minister of Defense; besides for bringing all of their expertise to our operations center; combined planning and combined operations is helping out tremendously. When I travel, I travel around with the Afghan leaders, [...] they see 70% of the things and I don’t see 30% of things because they know what to look for [...]. It goes from the top to the bottom to learn a rural understanding of how you can best help them [...]. "
The Afghan National Security Forces
"We are trying to build up the Afghan National Security Forces as fast as we can; I’m responsible for training the ‘field-force’ out there and then NTMA/CSTCA is responsible for institutional training; so we partner together to do that; and again, after you leave the institution you get through the basic training and you go out to the field, [...] training is constant [...] One of the key ways to do that is the partnering because [...] when you work that close together [...] it increases the effectiveness of our operations [...] [W]e think it is the best and fastest way to develop the leadership capability in the Afghan National Security Forces, which is really going to be the thing that sustains it in the future."
The Afghan Army and Police forces:
"They are in a wide range of capabilities dependent on, of-course, their partners and how well they’ve been able to effectively train to develop that leadership, and literacy [...] [With] the Police, we started a little bit later, developing, putting a lot of effort into the development of the Police; and then the Police was a fielded force already, versus growing the Army from the bottom. So we’ve got a little bit more to do on the Police, relatively speaking, but I think we’ll be able to make some progress."
Coordinating a 43-nation effort:
"It’s the same thing that you do working with the Afghans. It’s all part of the same solution, you work together and figure out how to maximize the effectiveness of the team [...] [I]t works very, very effectively and there’s some incredible contributions by many of the NATO nations; incredibly brave soldiers and civilians out there all over the place, it’s really inspiring."
The Coalition's major shortcoming and steps to overcome it:
"The partnering piece is a big part [...] and part of the challenge is to ensure that we do things in an Afghan context and ways according the Afghan culture. [...] I think that all that is focused on trying to get a better understanding for the people, better understanding for how the Afghan systems operate and how we can best help them make their system work better and not impose our system."
- Amy Greene