Italian Army Brigadier General Alberto Vezzoli, Commander of the “Julia” Brigade and Multinational Land Force, officially handed over the command of Train, Advise, Assist Command-West (TAAC-W) at Camp Arena to Italian Army Brigadier General Beniamino Vergori, Commander of the “Folgore” Brigade, NATO said in a press release.
According to the press release, the ceremony was attended by the Italian Minister of Defence Hon. Lorenzo Guerini and presided over by Italian Army Lieutenant General Nicola Zanelli, Deputy Commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission.
“The Multinational Land Force thoroughly supported the Afghan Forces and the local population, beyond any struggle posed by the pandemic,” Lieutenant General Zanelli said. “I recognize the great job done by Brigadier General Vezzoli and the “Julia” Brigade, day by day, shoulder to shoulder with our Afghan colleagues on the path for everlasting peace in Herat and in the whole country,” he added.
The press release said, many other distinguished civilian and military guests also attended the ceremony, including the NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo, and Italian Ambassador to Afghanistan Vittorio Sandalli.
Ambassador Pontecorvo highlighted the Train, Advise, Assist Command-West and Multinational Land Force’s contributions to the NATO-led mission, and acknowledged their work toward improving Afghan National Defence and Security Forces’ capabilities and sustainment.
Italian Minister of Defence Lorenzo Guerini praised the outstanding commitment of the Italian Army “Alpini” and of the Multinational Land Force for the results achieved during their 6-month tour of duty in the western region of Afghanistan.
“It is necessary to protect the gains achieved over the last 20 years at the cost of high sacrifice, also in terms of human lives. In the past few years Afghanistan has been moving along the path of reconstruction. Terrorism, however, remains a widespread threat and attacks against the country’s institutions, local security forces and people are a tragic testimony in that regard. We must work shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan people: this is our common wish, and I have reiterated it also within the NATO framework, where we will shortly define the future of the mission,” said Minister Guerini.
“One of the most important lessons learnt – the Minister continued – is a durable peace cannot be imposed: it must emerge from and develop through a shared political, economic and diplomatic process. Even in this very delicate phase, our position has not changed: we will stay in the country with our Allies until necessary, and until the Afghan Institutions and people will ask us to do so, in full compliance with our commitments.”
“Train, Advise, Assist Command-West of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission continues to provide support to Afghan security forces in Herat, Farah, Badghis and Ghor Provinces, despite the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the press release reads.
During their tenure, the “Julia” Brigade undertook several civil-military cooperation activities to strengthen liaison and good relationships with the local population, and Brigadier General Vezzoli stressed the importance of his troops’ contributions to local security.
“Our intervention, especially in countering the pandemic, gave back glimmers of hope to the local population,” he said.
Established in 2015, Resolute Support (RS) is a NATO-led, non-combat mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), who assumed nationwide responsibility for Afghanistan’s security following the conclusion of the previous NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission. Its purpose is to help the Afghan security forces and, institutions develop the capacity to defend Afghanistan and protect its citizens in a sustainable manner.
The Italian Armed Forces contribute to Resolute Support with an 800-strong contingent stationed in Kabul and in Herat, where it leads Train Advise Assist Command-West, a multinational force composed of units from NATO Allies and partners, including Albania, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia, Ukraine and the United States of America.