Fort Leavenworth An Army general coming to the end of one command and embarking on a new one emphasized Friday the importance of developing strong and capable leaders in Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, who is leaving his position as the Fort Leavenworth and Combined Arms Center commander on Monday, soon will head to Afghanistan to serve as commander of the newly established NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan headquarters. His position was confirmed Thursday by the U.S. Senate.
“We’ve made leadership development our No. 1 priority (here),” Caldwell said during a press conference regarding the NATO mission. “That same philosophy of developing leaders is paramount (in Afghanistan) too.”
Caldwell’s new position will be “dual-hatted” — he’ll command both the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan and NATO International Security Assistance Force, which will combine into one organization. Caldwell will work with leaders among the Afghan national security forces and help train them to develop leaders themselves. He said this mission could be long-term, but helping to sustain leadership among Afghan soldier and police forces would greatly help shorten the amount of time U.S. troops are in Afghanistan.
“Train them to train more people, so we don’t have to be there forever,” Caldwell said of the purpose of the NATO training mission.
Caldwell said there were three components to building strong leaders: education, training and experience.
“What Afghanistan needs more experience in is the training and the education side,” Caldwell said.
Other priorities of the NATO training mission, Caldwell said, would be to assist Afghanistan in creating a government its people could take seriously and would be proud to be a part in. He said it was important not to come into the country with any preconceived notions about how the country’s government should run.
“Clearly we have to have a legitimate government that we’re all there working in support of,” Caldwell said. “We have to be careful we do not try to impose on them something that is foreign. It has to be something they want.”
The NATO training mission won’t be successful on its own, Caldwell said, but would need help from many other areas of the U.S. government to make an impact. He said it was important to remember that “although the military is necessary, it will never be sufficient.”
“Anything we do here, we have to do in a comprehensive manner,” Caldwell said.
Keeping the public informed through strong media engagement would also be crucial to the success of the mission, to which Caldwell said the U.S. government had given such resources as money to finance it and military personnel to run it.
“We have an obligation to be as transparent and as open (as possible) and explain to the people how we are using those precious resources,” he said.
Fort Leavenworth officials say a new commanding general has not yet been named.