DepComm Gen, 101st Airborne Div visit marks change for Kandahar Airfield
By Army Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman
22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - The deputy commanding General, 101st Airborne Division led a site survey visit to Kandahar Airfield July 20. The purpose of Brig. Gen. James McConville's visit was to gain information and situational awareness for future deployments on roles and operations of the command and support elements here.
McConville met with senior leaders and increased his familiarity with the missions of the U.S. National Command Element (South), U.S. National Support Element (South), Regional Command (South) Headquarters and the International Security Assistance Force. He also received updates on logistics hub and base operations, aviation asset management and the NATO transition process.
The visit began with an overview of the historical strategic significance of Kandahar and an explanation of the dynamic, multi-national environment that defines KAF and RC (South).
"Kandahar has a long history," said Army Maj. Doug Brown, S3, Task Force Anzio. "It has been and remains a strategically significant geographic location because of the trade routes through the country. Kandahar itself dates back to Alexander the Great, who the Afghans still hold in high esteem."
"The history of this place is amazing," remarked McConville. Kandahar remains strategically important to modern Afghanistan. Because of this and the important multi-national effort that is based from KAF, ISAF's largest operating base, the installation remains an important military asset. KAF is a complex installation headed by four lead stake holder nations.
Currently, these nations are the U.S., which also has overall installation command, the U.K., Canada and the Royal Netherlands. The nations primarily share responsibility for providing life support and maintenance of facilities and structures on the installation. At the end of July, KAF will transition from the U.S., as lead nation, to NATO in a change of command ceremony between Army Col. Richard L. Stevens, current commander of KAF and U.K. Air Commodore Ashley Stevenson the incoming COMKAF (designate).
"The change of command follows a 12 month period that started July 2006 when the official KAF to NATO transfer of authority happened," explained Stevens. "Over the year between the transfer of authority and the change of command the U.S. remained the lead nation as NATO grew their capabilities to support the logistics operations and the installation infrastructure."
Despite the many changes happening at KAF, most noticeably the transition from U.S. control, the installation will remain important to U.S. forces. "U.S. forces will continue to perform a wide range of missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and ISAF using KAF as a power projection platform," said Stevens. "Logistics support of these forces remains a national responsibility."
The U.S. NSE will remain here as the driving force behind that support dedicated to their primary goals to arm, fix, fuel, move and sustain the warfighters they support. "Timely and uninterrupted logistic support to all U.S. forces is our mission," said Air Force 1st Lt. Donell Pittman, NATO transition lead officer, U.S. NSE. Matters of supply and support aren't the only reasons KAF will remain important, there are tactical ones as well.
"Kandahar is a major tactical objective for the enemy forces," said Stevens. "If they can separate Kandahar from Kabul they will consider that victory." While changes are on the horizon the importance of KAF will remain.
McConville expressed his thanks for the overview of the U.S. operation in RC (South) and encouraged the Task Force Anzio team to continue the outstanding support of U.S. forces. "In this business you fight the fight for those that replace you," said McConville. "The reality of the NCE is that it is here to stay to support the U.S. presence in RC (South) as long as we're needed," said Stevens.
Photo - Brig. Gen. James McConville, Deputy Commanding General 101st Airborne Division shakes hands with the new Task Force Corsair Commander Lt. Col. Jayson A. Altieri following the Task Force Corsair change of command ceremony that was held his Kandahar Airfield site survey visit July 20. Photo by Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman.