Today was the last day of a two-year tour in Afghanistan for Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, who has been responsible for the day-to-day operations in the war.
NPR's Tom Bowman and photographer David Gilkey spent a some time with him at Camp Dwyer, a desert base in Helmand Province. Tom was there when Rodriguez gave a pep-talk of sorts to several dozen Marines. He talked to Rodriguez about what's next for the U.S. in Afghanistan, especially after President Obama announced his plans to withdraw 10,000 troops.
Rodriguez said they'll face tough choices, but increasingly the mission in Afghanistan will become more about the "government than it is troops." And the American military can only create the conditions for a better Afghan government.
You can listen to Bowman's piece at the top of this post.
And David sent along these pictures of one of the general's last weeks in Afghanistan:
Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the No. 2 U.S. officer in Afghanistan, steps down from his post Monday. The commander met last month with U.S. troops in Helmand province.
Rodriguez's job has been to direct day-to-day operations of coalition forces across Afghanistan.
Rodriguez aboard an Air Force C-130 en route to visit Marines in southern Afghanistan. Just a few days prior, Obama announced that 10,000 American troops would come home this year.
Here, Rodriguez meets with the Marine command at Camp Leatherneck in southern Afghanistan.
At Camp Dwyer in southern Afghanistan. Rodriguez says that progress has been made pushing back the Taliban in Helmand province. Now he says, the challenge is how to reduce U.S. forces.
The general told the Marines at Camp Dwyer that with fewer troops, they will very likely have to work harder. "What we're doing is worth it," he said.