Michael's Dispatches

IJC: Change of Command


And a Few Thoughts

ISAF Joint Command Official Change of Command Ceremony

KABUL, Afghanistan (July 9) – Media are invited to attend the change of command ceremony when Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez will welcome Lt. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti as the new commander of ISAF Joint Command (IJC).

WHO:        Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, Lt. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti and other coalition and Afghan leaders

WHERE:      North KAIA, ISAF Joint Command, International Kabul Airport, Abby Gate
            Military side of the Khawja Rawash International Airport)

WHEN:       Monday, July 11
Gate opens to media arrival at 7 am
            Gate closes to media at 8 am
            Ceremony starts at 9 am

briefing-pano-testIJC in Kabul

11 July 2011
Kabul, Afghanistan
(Published from Dubai)

IJC stands for ISAF Joint Command, while ISAF stands for International Security Assistance Force.  And so with just three letters, you can say the 53 letters and spaces of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, which in turn symbolizes the more than forty countries assisting in Afghanistan.  They all seemed to have someone in the IJC.

On the day that I made the above image, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was coming to give a talk and say goodbye.  Secretary Gates did a great job.  In the IJC this day, the shift on duty was told to clear off all classified material so that there would be no issues with the cameras.  Secretary Gates walked in and gave his farewell talk, shook hands with a couple hundred people and then flew off in the 747-like jet that was waiting nearby.  As of this publishing, he’s retired.

Looking around this room, it’s amazing that the United States and Pakistan don’t get along.  We have close relations with all the countries represented in the IJC, and at least another hundred countries that were not present.  Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden lived for years just a short airplane flight to the east in Pakistan.  After the raid that killed bin Laden on the very doorstep of the Pakistani military, we’ve tried to spackle up our relationship with the dysfunctional “country” by sharing intelligence, which apparently was fed directly to the targets, who then disappeared.

New challenge for U.S.-Pakistan ties

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Twice in recent weeks, the United States provided Pakistan with the specific locations of insurgent bomb-making factories, only to see the militants learn their cover had been blown and vacate the sites before military action could be taken, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.

Subsequent the above article, it happened again with reports of two more tip-offs.


The Big Boss of the IJC is Lieutenant General David Rodriguez.   “Rod” is widely respected by those who know him and it’s also about time for him to go home.  And so, unfortunately, we will be losing General Petraeus and LTG Rodriguez at nearly the same time.  LTG Rodriguez reminds me of CSM Jeff Mellinger in Iraq: constantly “Walking the Line.”  You never knew where they would show up.  This man, LTG Rodriguez, has worked very hard in Iraq and in Afghanistan.  When I look LTG Rodriguez in the eyes, it’s difficult to imagine what he has seen in these nearly ten years of constant war.  The only certainty is that he has seen it all.  Many people don’t know it, but LTG Rodriguez and his crew are largely responsible for the terrible beating now being issued to the Taliban and various other enemies.  This is our man.  Thank you LTG Rodriguez.

Today, 11 July 2011, there will be a change of command as LTG Rodriguez hands off to LTG Curtis Scaparrotti.  One gentleman finally gets to go home, while the other comes back to war.  Godspeed to both.


Last month, LTG Rodriguez shook hands and said goodbye to Secretary Gates, who then boarded the special 747-like airplane, and flew to Europe for more work, and finally home on his final big trip as Secretary of Defense.


More often than not in the wars, these dispatches are about younger troopers and what they suffer and accomplish, and more often than not, it’s not glamorous or pretty.  It’s gritty, ugly and lonely.  But many people at home make a difference.  I was going to a meeting a couple weeks back and saw this box of “Operation Write Home” cards, and so I stopped to make a photo because the people at home need to know how important their acts of kindness can be.  Those acts of kindness have a cumulative effect and it’s amazing that despite nearly a decade of war, so many people at home are still so supportive.


The war in Afghanistan is turning around in our favor.  After nearly five years of yelling at the top of my lungs that we are losing, it’s a relief to write these words with confidence.  That doesn’t mean Afghanistan is suddenly a nice place or that we are out of danger.  There could well be a civil war in Afghanistan’s future and, in any case, this is a very long process requiring probably a century of work.  And though President Obama facilitated the current progress by sending more troops, he is making a serious mistake not to heed the advice of experienced commanders.  President Obama is a smart man.  A wise man would listen to the counsel of his very experienced generals.  The President is gambling with the gains made by the Coalition.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike · 10 years ago
    Interesting way of looking at it with regards to Pakistan. There truly is a large coalition working in Afghanistan. While there are ties to the LET and Quetta Shura for Pakistan's military, It's incredible that they seemingly allowed an Arab terrorist leader to reside where he did. This is the man that invited so much violence on a territory he is not even from.

    The before/after pics you showed of the murals to Massoud and Karzai is interesting as well. I know in a good chunk in the east there there will always be much resentment to any Pashtuns. Just one example of the ethnic tensions that could again explode with our exit. The factor of ethnic violence there is far deeper and complex than anything we went through in America.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sandy Ashton-Smith · 9 years ago
    Good day,

    I have had contact with an person who claim he is Lieutenant General David Rodriguez, he use the photos you have on the site to claim that he is the General, he has a false email and started to talk and went over to insult and use abusive language I have all the details, to whom must I report this please?
    I have respect for the General and would not have mind to be a friend, but a person who use a false identity should be reported!

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