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LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Dr. Alexandr Vondra (left), Czech Republic Minister of Defense, sits with U.S. Army Col. James Johnson (middle), commander of the outgoing Task Force Bayonet, and U.S. Army Col. Bruce Antonia, commander of the incoming Task Force Patriot and a native of Manchester, Conn., during an office call on Forward Operating Base Shank here Nov. 6. Vondra was travelling to visit the Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team and their project sites in Logar Province. (Photo by U.S. Army Spc. Brian Glass, Task Force Patriot)LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Czech Republic Minister of Defense spoke with Task Forces Patriot and Bayonet leaders while visiting the Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team here Nov. 6.

During his visit to the Czech PRT on Forward Operating Base Shank, Dr. Alexandr Vondra, the Czech Republic MOD, sat down with U.S. Army Col. Bruce Antonia, commander of TF Patriot and 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, La., and U.S. Army Col. James Johnson, commander of TF Bayonet and 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy.

 

The leaders discussed several subjects including Afghan National Security Forces; the people’s perceptions of International Security Assistance Forces in Logar and Wardak provinces; and the future roles of U.S. and Czech forces in Afghanistan.

 

After the office call, Antonia, who is from Manchester, Conn., and is the incoming task force commander, and Johnson, as the outgoing task force commander, answered questions posed from Czech media representatives who were travelling with Vondra’s entourage.

 

“The most important thing we can do with the Afghan Police is make them more professional,” Johnson told the Czech press representatives. “That is exactly what the training of the Czech PRT provides. It provides the foundation for a professional police force that is here to serve the population.”

 

With the changing of the guard from TF Bayonet to TF Patriot this month, people might wonder what direction the new leadership will take. Antonia stated the makeup of his brigade is a lot like Johnson’s, so there will be a continuity of effort regarding the number of Soldiers in the provinces.

 

“As I understand it, our way ahead is to transition to the Afghan National Security Forces,” said Antonia. “In order to do that, we can’t introduce more American forces. We will begin transitioning to the Afghan Security Forces next summer. As far as I know, there is no plan to increase the American capacity on FOB Shank.”

 

Gaining and maintaining trust will be a key to ANSF success in Logar and Wardak provinces during TF Patriot’s time here. One task facing ISAF is to continue training ANSF to a standard high enough that local villagers will see positive results. Antonia said that kind of success hinges on two things.

 

“I think that is based on the people, the local people, and the trust that they have in the Afghan National Security Forces – number one,” said Antonia. “Number two is the amount of insurgent activities (remaining) in the area.”

 

Johnson said training has gone very well and the Afghan National Police has made significant strides in their progress. With an eventual handoff of operational control to the ANSF and potential U.S. troop withdrawals, TF Patriot involvement with ANSF training is something to watch for in the upcoming year.

 

Only having been here a few days, Antonia addressed the developing situation and his task force’s changing supportive roles.

 

“With only a week’s worth of experiences (here, I would say) we would make the assessment of Afghan security forces and where they are; and then, first, we would begin to transition them into taking the lead on security operations,” explained Antonia. “Once they have taken the lead and gotten comfortable with that, (we would be) pulling our forces back into an over-watch role.”

 

As ISAF partners with ANSF, Antonia said TF Patriot forces currently perform the same actions as ANSF during joint security operations. After TF Patriot transitions to over-watch operations as ANSF operate by themselves, Antonia said he will then make a decision – after an assessment – whether or not ANSF in Logar and Wardak provinces will be ready to perform operations completely on their own.

 

“There are a lot of different factors that ... would go into that assessment; but in my opinion, number one is the trust that the Afghan people have in their security forces,” said Antonia. That, I think, is their primary link to their government ... that they feel comfortable in the security.”

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Col. James Johnson, commander of the outgoing Task Force Bayonet, answers questions from Czech reporters after an office call with the Czech Republic Minister of Defense Dr. Alexandr Vondra on Forward Operating Base Shank here Nov. 6. (Photo by U.S. Army Spc. Brian Glass, Task Force Patriot)LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Col. Bruce Antonia, commander of the incoming Task Force Patriot and a native of Manchester, Conn., offers his insight to Czech reporters here Nov. 6 about what he has seen so far and his expectation for TF Patriot. Antonia’s interview followed an office call with the Czech Republic Minister of Defense Dr. Alexandr Vondra. (Photo by U.S. Army Spc. Brian Glass, Task Force Patriot Public Affairs)

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 November 2010 17:46
 

    

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