Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, Jr., U.S. Marine Corps, met with the DoD Blogger Roundtable to discuss Afghanistan after returning from a year in command of U.S. Marines and allied forces in the Helmand and Nimroz provinces of Afghanistan. He provided a sobering but positive perspective of the situation next to the borders of Pakistan and Iran and the general was ready to share his thoughts on the current events in Afghanistan with the roundtable bloggers.
|Celebrating opening of new women's center|
See Photo Credit Below
However, remember, I called the general a straight shooter! Here is a paraphrase of what he said: All this can come apart if the Afghan government and security forces allow corruption to overcome all of these gains in the battle for the minds of their people. He described two types of corruption for us. First, the parasitic type of corruption is found in the central government, by officials at higher levels and is systemic. The second is more critical and belongs to the local security forces which he explained as predatory. Demanding payment from those using the transportation routes, confiscating land, etc., will have a direct impact on the lives of each villager and will anger them, turning them to the insurgents' side. His concerns for the future include porous borders with the two neighbors in the southwest and the influx of personnel and weapons to support the “ruthless and murderous” Taliban insurgents.
|Fruit & Vegetable Processing|
See below for photo credit
What event, activity or act made you the most proud of the Marines under your command during the year you were deployed in Afghanistan?
|Tajaki Dam Helmand Province|
See Photo Credit Below
The 1,000 kilometers (more than 660 miles) of roads added to the provincial transportation networks built by the Marines in the last year was his second note of pride! Changed lives … think back to cell phone connections, improved security for their families, new roads in extreme terrain, water for their farmland and government corruption on the mend. But a $1 Billion drug industry in Helmand province alone is still fueling the insurgency and in response Afghan security forces are suffering more casualties than allies according to General Toolan. They rely on our rescue, medevac and medical systems now and they will need them in the future as well!
|Maj Gen Toolan,|
This roundtable was a great discussion and if you would like to hear an audio please go to DoDLive! Read more Afghan blogs on MilitaryAvenue’s “Our Letters to You: A Military Family Blog”. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey just visited Afghanistan yesterday to find out how the Afghans were progressing as we begin another series of drawdown efforts. We hope his report comes back with positive, straight forward notes like those of Maj Gen Toolan .
Photo Credit: Sgt. Kathryn Comfort, Female Engagement Team 2 member, poses for a photo with a local Afghan girl following the opening ceremony of the Now Zad District Women’s Center, Jan. 11, 2012. By Cpl. Meredith Brown II MEF (FWD)
Photo Credit: Standing on the roof of the new Marjeh Fruit and Vegetable Packing Facility, Master Gunnery Sgt. Steven Jackson (left), C9 chief and purchasing officer, discusses the building project with Mohammad Akbar (center), main contractor and Maj. Erich Bergiel, supervisor of the construction project. By Master Gunnery Sgt. Phil Mehringer 01/29/2012
Photo Credit: Tajaki Dam By Staff Sgt. James R. Richardson 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd)
Photo Credit: Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, Jr., recently completed a year-long deployment in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He concurrently commanded Regional Command (Southwest) and II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). DoDLive