Afghanistan Transition in Herat


From William Caldwell, New Atlanticist: Yesterday, it was my honor to represent NATO and ISAF at the transition ceremony in the western Afghan city of Herat. Herat is Afghanistan’s third largest city and one of its oldest; founded 2,700 years ago, Herat still serves as an important link among the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia. Alongside landmarks of the past, there are signs that Herat is being reborn. Through international assistance, nearly a billion dollars will be invested over the next three years in Herat. Trade links are being re-established, commerce is developing, and security is returning.


For those of us who attended, two things stood out during the transition ceremonies—the depth of pride Afghans feel for their country and their readiness to continue the long journey of rebuilding Afghanistan after three decades of war. Ashraf Ghani made perhaps the most impassioned speech and noted that today’s army is of greater quality than the army he observed two years ago. Personally surprised at the professionalism, Dr. Ghani urged those in attendance to counter the inaccurate negative images projected about the Afghan Army, Air Force, and Police. He admitted that even he did not believe that his nation had the capacity to build a force as capable as what he sees today, but it exists. Dr. Ghani noted the sacrifices that have been made by Afghans for Afghans and that geographic transition is a message to anti-government forces that the Afghan security forces are ready to defend the nation. Transition is also a message of gratitude to the international community.

Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell, IV., United States Army, has served as the commander ofNATO Training Mission-Afghanistan since November 2009. Photo credit NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.

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