| WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2009 A relatively good security environment and hopes for more U.S. troops on the way are laying conditions for more development and economic opportunity in eastern Afghanistan, the commander of Task Force Warrior told Pentagon reporters today.
Army Col. Scott A. Spellmons task force is responsible for improving provincial- and district-level Afghan government capacity in Afghanistans Regional Command East. Aggressive efforts to root out Taliban and other insurgent groups has brought a sense of security to much of his area of responsibility in Bamyan, Pervan, Panjshir and Kapisa provinces, he told reporters via teleconference from Bagram Airfield.
We have worked very hard over the past several months with our international partners to disrupt these organizations and their leadership in an effort to separate them from the Afghan people, he said. We are aggressively staying on the offensive to put pressure on the enemys support areas to prevent his ability to regroup over the winter months.
Spellmon credited his combined task force, which works hand-in-hand with several U.S. battalions and separate companies operating in the region, with helping to improve security, thus enabling reconstruction to take place.
We work very hard not to initiate any major development projects until we are sure that we have enough security in place and enough support from the local population that will allow us to move forward, he said.
Should more U.S. troops deploy to the region, Spellmon said, they could be a boost to seven of his 30 districts still facing security challenges.
[If] any additional capabilities [are] brought to our task force, we would conduct this campaign in more areas, in more valleys, in more villages, he said. And it would allow us to bring the positive effects of improved security and development much more quickly to the Afghan people.
Spellmons headquarters element hails from Fort Polk, La., and is complemented by about 3,500 other U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, a French infantry battalion, a provincial reconstruction team from New Zealand and a medical team from Singapore. Two U.S. PRTs, a Navy team from Nebraska and a human terrain team of social scientists also support the mission.
In all their operations, these forces work with the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army, Spellmon said. Although the Afghan forces vary in capability some capable of operating independently with minimal coalition support and some requiring more help Spellmon said all are involved in the effort.
When we are out in and among the population, we work to put the Afghans in front of everything that we do, he said.