(Host) The Vermont National Guard’s 2nd in command will be among the 1500 guard soldiers headed to Afghanistan in the New Year. Brigadier General Jonathan Farnham will be leading a new organization monitoring the training of Afghan security forces.
VPR’s Jane Lindholm has more.
(Lindholm) General Farnham will be head of the newly formed Afghan National Security Forces Development Assistance Bureau. He will be in charge of 100 soldiers, mostly from Vermont and members of the international coalition. The bureau will be monitoring how the training of security forces is going.
(Farnham) "One of the responsibilities of the bureau will be to gather the information and make recommendations that maybe folks that are so close to it may not see on a daily basis and hopefully help to accomplish the missions of the commanders on the ground and to help provide some positive input on how things could be improved or streamlined."
(Lindholm) 1,500 other Vermont Guard soldiers with the 86th Infantry Brigade are also on their way to Afghanistan and will be working on the ground with Afghan security forces under the command of Colonel William Roy. General Farnham says he’s still learning exactly what his organization will do and how it relates to the 86th Infantry Brigade’s mission.
(Farnham) "I know that the Task Force Phoenix that we originally believed Vermont would be manning and managing has gone away, is in the process of going away and being reorganized. It appears to me to be a little it leaner and smaller footprint that it originally was. The bureau itself is designed to be an enduring piece of what will remain there for a while in terms of monitoring how things are going in Afghanistan from the Coalition Force perspective."
(Lindholm) This is the first time Farnham will be serving overseas in a combat mission. He just signed on to the position last week and says the short preparation time has been difficult for his children.
(Farnham) "You know everything you do, every minute every second matters and of course I did have a discussion with my family. They’re in the shock mode. They have not had the long lead time that some of their friends at school, you know they have friends at school that the parents have known for a while. So they’re experiencing the shock and disbelief factor I would say at this time."
(Lindholm) Farnham has been with the Vermont Guard since 1979. Farnham’s replacement in Vermont should be named shortly.
For VPR news I’m Jane Lindholm in Colchester.