Friday, February 12, 2010

Brigadier Cowan's address to the troops at Camp Bastion – Thu 11 Feb 2010

We stand here today as partners. In the past few weeks we have trained to be a combined force.

Soon we will be part of an operation the like of which has not been seen since the start of this campaign: Operation Moshtarak, or in English, “Together”.

I can think of no better name to describe this venture. For we are in this together: we have planned it together, we will fight it together, we will see it through together.

Afghans with Allies, soldiers with civilians, Government with its people.

In the last few weeks we have seized the initiative from the enemy. Day after day for six weeks, we have killed and captured the enemy's leaders, shaping the conditions for success.

Soon we will clear the Taleban from its safe havens in central Helmand. Where we go, we will stay. Where we stay, we will build.

We will establish security so that the people are free once more to live their own lives under their own government.

The next few days will not be without danger. To reduce the risks, you must know your enemy. Avoid the places they would expect you to go. Stay off the tracks. Check vulnerable areas before you enter them. Watch out for propaganda traps. Be first with the truth.

Above all else protect the people. Defeat the enemy by avoiding civilian casualties. Hold your fire if there is risk to the innocent, even if this puts you in greater danger.

That kind of restraint requires courage. The courageous restraint you have shown throughout our time in Afghanistan

Offer an open hand in friendship to those who do not wish to fight. They can join the people of Afghanistan and their Government in rebuilding their society.

For those who will not shake our hand they will find it closed into a fist. They will be defeated.

With my Afghan friends, I am proud to be one of your commanders. Together, Operation Moshtarak will mark the start of the end of the insurgency. I wish you Godspeed and the best of luck.

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