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Lt. Gen. Rodriguez: What is the ISAF Joint Command?

What is the ISAF Joint Command?

As I travel throughout Afghanistan and I meet people who come here from all over the world I am asked just what the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command is and what we do to provide for a secure environment.  In my first blog post, I will provide answers to those and other frequently asked questions.  

What is the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command?

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command (IJC), just established on the 12th of November, has responsibility to oversee the day-to-day operations of Coalition Forces in Afghanistan; this focus allows the ISAF Commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, to focus on strategy in Afghanistan and across the region.

The IJC is located near the Kabul International Airport and has about 1,000 personnel here from the 43 member nations that make up the international coalition.

Coalition forces are in Afghanistan as a result of Sept. 11, 2001 to disrupt, degrade and dismantle the al-Qaeda network but we are also here to provide a secure environment in order to support improved governance and development in Afghanistan.

How is the IJC working to provide a secure environment?

Embedded Partnering with the Afghan security forces – that is, eating, sleeping, planning, and executing operations together as pretty much as a single force – will accelerate the growth of security capacity in those forces.  At the same time, greater security provides the space the governmental institutions – both Afghan institutions and international agencies – to grow the basic institutions and security capabilities.

What are some of the ways we can help assist in Afghanistan’s growth and development?

There are many different opinions about how we can best help the Afghan people have a more stable future and opportunity for prosperity.

Too often though, we have oversimplified the problems, applying broad western solutions to what we now recognize as varied, non-western challenges.

We are going to see the greatest successes at the grass roots level, in the districts and below through tailored, responsive, decentralized approaches that Afghanistan’s central government provides, that respond to very specific needs.

An essential and vital part of providing for growth and development is countering the propaganda of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their affiliates, while also empowering Afghans to challenge the enemy.

We have to help provide the secure environment that will allow, for instance, cell-phone and radio towers to continue to function so Afghans who want it can have access to mobile phones and radios across the country.

Interestingly, cell phone use has skyrocketed in Afghanistan over the past couple of years.  Afghans use them to access the internet and text each other. Ministries use them as a means to pay the members of the Army and Police in order to bypass opportunities for embezzlement of salaries.

The explosion in commercial cell phone and internet coverage in Afghanistan puts knowledge and learning at the fingertips of the citizens across Afghanistan.  That’s something I didn’t have growing up – and I am convinced that it will vastly accelerate the opportunity for stability.