KABUL, June 25, 2009 – Army Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez arrived in Afghanistan yesterday to assume his post as deputy commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

He’ll serve in that capacity on an interim basis as NATO officials set up a new intermediate command that Rodriguez will head in the alliance’s International Security Assistance Force to oversee day-to-day military operations.

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates explained the rationale behind the new command structure and where Rodriquez will fit in under Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who commands both U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

“The problem we needed to address is [that] the commander of ISAF under the current arrangement has far too many responsibilities to be able to guide the tactical battle on a day-to-day basis across the country,” Gates said. “The plan is for General McChrystal and the [British] deputy commander — Royal Marines Lt. Gen. Jim Dutton — to have more of a strategic role in looking across the country at a more elevated level in terms of cooperation between civil and military efforts.”

The command as proposed would be an intermediate headquarters under the ISAF commander that would focus on the tactical situation. “It would be very much like the corps commander in Iraq under the Multinational Force Iraq commander,” Gates said. “So you’ve got somebody with the overarching responsibility for strategy, but somebody working the day-to-day battle.”

The secretary said he hopes the new NATO command structure will be in place by August. “Immediately on the establishment of this ISAF headquarters,” he said, “[Rodriquez] will take off the U.S. hat and put on an ISAF hat, and his only role will be in an alliance role.”

This is the second tour of duty in Afghanistan for Rodriquez. As commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, he led Combined Joint Task Force 76, based at Bagram Airfield, from February 2007 to April 2008.

As deputy commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, Rodriguez will direct the day-to-day operations and ensure efficient command and control of U.S. forces and continue effective integration and coordination between U.S. and coalition forces operating under ISAF, officials said.

Rodriguez most recently served as Gates’ senior military assistant.

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