He is due to come and testify before Congress next week, but this week the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, took some time to visit Afghanistan and troops stationed there, thanking them for their service. The general is going to retire and this is his last month in the military.
The general spent his time in Afghanistan with the members of the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team and with the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division.
General Pace drew attention to how the different military services are all working together when he took the time to Pace, who is a Marine, presented an Air Force sergeant with an Army award.
He mentioned some of the progress that he has seen in Afghanistan such as traffic jams in Kabul. Six years ago, when he first came to Afghanistan there were not enough cars to cause a traffic jam anywhere in the country.
As the helicopter flew him into the location, which is a forward operating base, he saw some of the other changes like seeing cars and trucks on the roads, new tin roofs on the family compounds, satellite dishes on roofs, mud walls that are the usual way to separate one property from another all show that they have been worked on and most of them are in good shape, there are windows where there were just holes in the walls. Irrigation canals have been repaired and there is water flowing through then now, bringing water to crops, there are cement plants and brick factories.
According to the general, there is progress being made on the political side as well as the civilian, but he cautions that the country still has a long way to go. There is a lack of schools, which has led to a high illiteracy rate.
The country also needs more highways and roads.
The U.S. is going to be sending over another brigade in the next few months whose mission is going to be to train the Afghan National Police. The Afghan Army, on the other hand is in very good shape.
He was joined by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez, who is the commander of NATO’s Regional Command-East, who agreed that there are still problems that need to be resolved, but he also said that he has seen a tremendous amount of progress. He put things into prospective this way. Someone coming to Afghanistan now for the first time would think conditions are horrendous, but if they had been there six years, ago where there was nothing and the people lived in fear, they would comment on how much progress has been made.
Source: Department of Defense http://www.defenselink.mil/