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News | Nov. 15, 2012

Uruzgan official discusses Taliban reintegration efforts

By Sgt. Ashley Curtis , 117th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (Hawaii)

TARIN KOT, Afghanistan — Uruzgan’s new provincial joint secretariat team leader Amir Mohammad met with International Security Assistance Force leaders on Nov. 12 to discuss the province’s recent efforts to reintegrate former Taliban members.

The reintegration initiative in Uruzgan is becoming common in Afghanistan as the country increasingly moves toward government leadership instead of military control.

During the meeting held at Multinational Base Tarin Kot, Mohammad said he and other government officials have discussed various issues with villagers in the province, especially those in remote and mountainous areas. The officials listen to their problems and promote ways the villagers can improve their quality of life by supporting the government, instead of turning to the Taliban.

“We are taking some risky trips,” Mohammad said. “We are working with the people, trying to do something for the people. Even in the dangerous areas, we are doing something.”

He acknowledged the importance of reaching out to low-level Taliban members and those who are at risk of supporting the terrorist group.

“We need to focus on the small fighters rather than the big ones to separate them from their commanders,” he said.

Mohammad said it is important to empower villagers rather than offering concessions that will only improve their conditions in the short term. He said getting the rural citizens to realize they are their own best defense is a key to the program’s success, along with the government’s ability to provide sustainable sources of education and health care.

Mohammad noted that the security situation in the province has greatly improved as well as the cooperation between the military and the government.

“Generally, the security situation here is good,” he said. “We are working with [military] leadership and government leadership. We’re working together.”