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Lieutenant Col. James McArthur, operations officer, Regimental Combat Team 7, gives the opening brief at the first RCT-7 commander’s conference, Dec. 19, 2012. Each unit’s representative at the meeting had a chance to explain their objectives and progress while fielding questions from the other leaders.

Photo by Cpl. Timothy Lenzo

RCT-7 leadership discusses future of Helmand province

20 Dec 2012 | Cpl. Timothy Lenzo

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Key coalition leaders arrived at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, for the first commander’s conference under Regimental Combat Team 7, Dec. 19, to discuss the future of Helmand province.

With RCT-7 overseeing an integral part in the drawdown of coalition forces in Afghanistan, Col. Austin Renforth, commanding officer, RCT-7, brought leaders from 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment; the Georgian Army, and U.S. and United Kingdom advisor teams, among others to discuss the future of the regiment’s area of operations.

“We brought everyone here today to understand where we are right now and where we are going,” said Maj. Gen. David H. Berger, commanding general, Task Force Leatherneck.

During the conference, the leadership discussed their focus on advising, developing and supporting the Afghan forces, supporting the advancement of the provincial and local governments, and evolving with the progress to enable a sustainable security and stability for the future of Afghanistan.

“Enabling (the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) governance and development,” said Renforth. “At the end of the day, that is what we want and is our intent. How we do it is all these things right here.”

One of the things Renforth was referring to were the advisor teams. The advisor teams work closely with Afghan National Security Forces and the Afghan government. They embed at all levels, from the district police to the provincial government and each Afghan National Army Brigade with the 215th Corps.

“The number one priority for the RCT is support for the (Security Force Advisor Team),” said Renforth.

The SFATs will continue to play a key role as the ANSF assume more responsibility while coalition forces drawdown.

“(SFATs) are the connecting file between our force and the force we are developing,” said Maj. Gen. Berger. “We should be trying to do everything we can to support the connecting file in whatever jobs we are in.”

The conference also gave a chance to set up coalition forces for success during the transition to Afghan forces. Every section had time to discuss their objectives, update the other units on progress and field any questions.

“We are talking about the next three months,” said Renforth “This is really where we set the conditions for the fighting season.”

The meeting covered everything from past operations, future operations as forces prepare for the summer fighting season and years into the future of Afghanistan.

This will not be the last commander’s conference. With more responsibility being transferred from coalition forces to ANSF, meetings like this will help leave the Afghan people in control of their own destiny.