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In a farewell conference, the outgoing U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan told U.S. military officials in the country that the most important issues there are health care, reconstruction and the economy.

Military officials said Sunday that Ronald Neumann met with Combined Joint Task Force-82 leaders to discuss strategies and wrap up his 18 months in Afghanistan.

“We have to go forward. It will be a real struggle to constantly change operations to meet the threat of the day,” Neumann was quoted as telling the military leaders.

Neumann also called on the Afghan government to build an “independent national monetary reserve” so the country is not completely dependent on foreign aid to keep running.

Among other problems Neumann identified: the training of the Afghan police is three years behind the Afghan army; the Taliban continues to regroup, mount attacks, and intimidate civilians; and corruption in the government must be rooted out.

“There has been a bazaar morality because for 30 years they’ve had to take what they could get to survive,” Neumann was quoted as saying. “Until the [Afghan] people believe in the government to take personal risks and sacrifice for it, corruption will continue.”

In the Saturday meeting, Neumann was presented with a departing gift by Army Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez, the CJTF-82 commander.

“As a military man, I can respect it when you leave a place better than when you found it. We all have a lot of respect for the job you’ve done here,” Rodriguez said.


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