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Update from Vt. Guard commander in Afghanistan - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Update from Vt. Guard commander in Afghanistan

Burlington, Vermont - September 14, 2010

Fifteen-hundred Vermont guard soldiers in Afghanistan are getting ready to leave. The first wave returns next week. But despite the joyful anticipation, the mission remains difficult and dangerous.

WCAX Reporter Kristin Carlson spoke Tuesday with Vermont's Commander Col. Will Roy from Bagram Air Field.

Carlson: Col. Will Roy, thanks for joining us.

Roy: It's my pleasure.

Carlson: I think a lot of people want to know what kind of progress you are seeing being made over there.

Roy: I think we are seeing a lot of progress over here. As we've talked about before we have units spread all through the regional command east-- both in our area of operations as well as in other brigade operation areas. Across the board we are seeing a lot of success in separating the insurgents from the population, a lot of success in building infrastructure and a lot of success in helping the Afghans build institutions of government so they can help their people.

Carlson: How do you measure success? I remember seeing Darren Perron's video and there was a lot of locals who were waving and shaking your hand and welcoming you-- is that how you measure success?

Roy: There are certainly a number of ways of measuring success and it depends where you are at. For instance in places like Bameon-- where you can literally walk downtown and through the bazaar with no body armor, just your uniform-- the way you measure success is your ability to assist the government in providing resources to help the population during floods, mudslides, etc... And other places the 172nd is task force avalanche, they measure success by the ability for the ASF to separate out the insurgents from the population and enable the people to have freedom of movement in their area without being accosted by insurgents. So each specific area has its own measurement. And I think you will find across the board in all areas-- in our measurements-- we are continuing to see improvements day by day. Certainly there are some days where you take three steps forward and four steps back. For those days if you have days where you are taking four steps forward and you stay there...

So it's really one of those missions keeps you on your toes. When you wake up in the morning you don't know what to expect and by the time you go back to bed you look back-- that was a long day. I think the best description I heard of our mission over here is the days are really long but the weeks go by very fast.

Carlson: Vermonters know you are doing very dangerous work. It's been a very difficult time-- Vermonters have lost three guard soldiers. What has the impact of that been?

Roy: It's very difficult for us to lose our soldiers, whether we lose them or they are injured significantly. These are our people we have grown up with side by side. We in many cases-- when we go back home-- we will see the families of these soldiers on a daily basis, if not weekly basis, so losing one of our soldiers is one of the most difficult things, but we believe the best way to pay tribute to them is to carry on with this mission of helping the Afghans build a government that will provide safety and security for its people so that it can never again be used to attack our nation or any other nation and that their children have the same opportunities that our children do, and that is to grow up safe and secure and have a chance at education, access to health care, clean water and just a brighter future. And that's how we pay tribute to our lost soldiers.

Kristin Carlson - WCAX News

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