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Afghan Government and ANSF Bring Governance to New District

By Staff Sgt. Ashlee Lolkus , Combined Joint Task Force 1

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LAGHMAN, Afghanistan (June 18, 2011) – In a dusty, hot valley in the center of eastern Afghanistan, Afghan National Security Forces and U.S. soldiers worked to bring security to the province’s newest district.

To bring the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan into Pech Valley, a partnered operation began last March to sweep the valley of insurgents, establish a district center and bring development to the people.

Former Alingar District sub-governor, Haji Alif Shah, now sub-governor of the new Bad Pech District, said he feels for the people and will do his job properly and shared his thoughts on that process.

“Even though it’s now summer time, the winter is coming,” Shah said. “We need offices for the personnel of the district, the Afghan National Police,  the municipality.”

He said security is good since the forces have been in the area, but they need to get resources in place.

“We need the same things that other districts have,” he said. One of the beginning stages is establishing security. “We need to take care of our military set-up before they can help the people.”

U.S. Army Capt.  Kevin Hrodey, commander of Company B, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Ironman, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, TF Red Bulls, from Pleasant Hill, Iowa, agreed with Shah and met with the ANSF leaders on nearly a daily basis to discuss the security situation and other needs.

“I think generally everybody has the same goal,” he said. “Everyone wants to see the district succeed. I think they’ve got the right people in place. A lot of times it takes a little help and nudging them in the right direction in order to make something work, but everybody has the same goal in mind.”

“I am very happy to be working with Capt. Hrodey and the Americans,” said Afghan National Army Capt. Walli, with 1st Battalion,  1st Kandak. “We work together for everything. He and his men help to bring a good situation here. We have been out in the villages and they are also happy we are here to bring security to the area.”

“Everybody I talk to; locals in the villages, they are happy we are here,”  confirmed Hrodey. “Happy that they can finally see some faces of the government, and government just needs a kick start. It can’t be expected to work over night; it’s going to be a process.”

“I heard from the people around here,” Walli said, “that they think the district center is temporary because we don’t even have a water pump for ourselves and living in tents.”

Shah said he heard the same sentiments from the people.

“I think a big thing is that no one is used to these types of conditions,”  Hrodey said. “They are used to having buildings, but here they are,  thrown in the middle of nowhere, living in houses dug out of the ground built with parachutes and post pickets …. It’s a whole new world out here. It’s taken them time to adapt and adjust to their new mission,  same as us.”

Hrodey said, “These guys are making do with what they have. They are making do because they believe in it.”

“For whatever we are responsible for in the area and what we are able to do,  we will take care of,” said Shah. “We don’t want the people to question and blame us for not doing something for them.

“The last 10 years, there was no security in this area; this district was away from the provincial center,” said Shah. “There has been no construction development, no agricultural development, and no schools. When there is no school or education that is where the security problems come up.”

“[The district center is] supposed to have a director of education, director of agriculture, all these different people to build the staff for the sub-governor, and they don’t have that yet. That is a key part that is still missing,” Hrodey said.

Shah said they are working with coalition forces regarding these issues. The largest issues are the basics: roads, electricity and structures for the district center.

All of these things take time, but the sub-governor, ANSF and coalition forces continue to work together to make sure eastern Afghanistan’s newest district is taken care of.

“This district will succeed,” Hrodey said, “if they get the people out here and the programs in place.”