Fort Hood and III Corps' commanding general spoke about progress in Afghanistan via a teleconference from Kabul Wednesday morning.
Lieutenant General Mark Milley is commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, which is responsible for the day-to-day planning and operations of coalition efforts there.
Master Sergeant Jacob Caldwell is deployed with III Corps and watched the teleconference.
"I have some emotion and time invested here," Caldwell said.
It's his third tour there, but it's his first preparing Afghan forces to take over.
"I lost a lot of friends during those deployments, there was a lot of sacrifices made, so it is heartening to be here now and see that things have actually improved that those sacrifices are not wasted," Jacob said.
It's been tough on Afghan soldiers and police too.
This fighting season is the deadliest yet, as they take the reigns for the first time.
General Milley says the 350-thousand strong forces are giving it all that they have, as they fight for the life of their country.
"Not a single unit, army or police, has shattered under the pressure that the enemy has brought to bear this summer, and that speaks volumes about their discipline, their commitment, and their cohesion."
He says tactically, they have the upper hand.
"They clearly overmatch the enemy; However, as a system, there's plenty of room to improve and we're focusing our efforts in on those areas."
Those areas include logistics, medical care, and intelligence.
Just last week, about 300 Intelligence troops deployed from Fort Hood to join the effort.
Before he got on the plane last Thursday, Battalion Commander for the 163d Military Intelligence Battalion Lieutenant Colonel Mark Johnson said, "They've made great strides, and really now it's just about reinforcing and giving them the training that they need to continue the mission when we're gone."
Now training and advising efforts are shifting from ground troops to higher level units.
"So step-by-step, we keep releasing ourselves from the lower units, as they demonstrate their capability to fight on their own and sustain on their own," Milley said.
He says he's confident Afghan security forces will be ready to completely take over by the end of next year, but that it's not without cost.
"Not only for the families back home, but for the soldiers here who have sacrificed in blood for the freedom of Afghanistan," Milley said.
More than 2,000 American troops have been killed in Afghanistan since 9/11, and the day Afghan forces become completely self-sufficient will be the day U.S. troops can come home and out of harm's way.
"It will be gratifying, for all the time that we spent and for all the sacrifices that we've made here that we will actually be able to see it all be culminated, and us leaving and them taking charge and being successful," said Caldwell.
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