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News | Feb. 3, 2012

Camp Arena soldiers pave way for brighter Kuchi future

By Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace , 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

BALA MURGHAB, Afghanistan (February 3, 2012) — Elders and children from a Kuchi village in western Afghanistan made their way from their mud huts and nomadic tents to meet a coalition convoy during a humanitarian mission Nov. 18.

The service members presented the children with shoes, candy and toys, along with giving boxes of food, juice and other beverages to the elders. 

“I believe children have enormous capacity to remember events and people, and hope the Kuchi tribe children in this village will remember coalition forces for their generosity and kindness,” said U.S. Army Col. Ricardo E. Ramirez, U.S. Forces Afghanistan Detachment West commander. “As they get older, hopefully they will maintain a positive attitude towards coalition forces. As adults, maybe they will show kindness and generosity to those less fortunate.”

As the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police grow stronger, more civil-military cooperation events are made possible, which impacts the Kuchi tribes.

“Historically, most Afghans looked down on the Kuchi because they were traveling people and were not rooted anywhere,” said Atahi Mir Ahmad, a coalition translator from Herat province. “Day by day, the perception of the Kuchi is increasing as Afghans become more open minded Currently, I think most Afghans look at them as equal brothers and sisters.”

Kuchi tribes often keep sheep and goats, selling the meat, dairy and wool, in order to buy other necessities such as grain, vegetables, fruit and other commodities not available to nomadic travelers.

This particular tribe established a temporary village, made of make-shift mud huts and tents, near Camp Arena, a primarily Italian and Spanish base in Herat province, western Afghanistan. 

Camp Arena is also home to several dozen U.S. service members who are either embedded with Italian or Spanish forces, or are assigned to the U.S. detachment. 

Over the past several months, using Commanders Emergency Response Program funds, the soldiers built a new water well directly across from the Kuchi village.

The new well will benefit that Kuchi village plus any other Kuchi migrating through the area. 

“In recent times, when a Kuchi tribe finds an area sufficient to sustain their lives, some tribes will begin to inhabit that area and only travel during the spring to find better grazing grounds for their livestock,” said Mir Ahmad. “When spring gives way to summer, the Kuchi may return to their inhabited area.”

Coalition forces hope development projects like the well will benefit tribes for many years.

“I hope this well will serve this Kuchi tribe for generations to come,” said Ramirez. We realize this well will significantly change their life. Having a reliable water source will make a huge difference in their everyday life. It will give them a sense of security for their future.”