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KABUL, Oct. 26, 2009 – Separate helicopter incidents today claimed the lives of 11 U.S. servicemembers and three U.S. civilians in Afghanistan, military officials reported.
Last modified on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 10:06
WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2009 – Afghan and NATO forces have removed dozens of insurgents from fighting in Afghanistan in recent days, including a long-sought-after Taliban commander, military officials reported.
Last modified on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 10:06
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Left to right, Sarkani Subgovernor Hamish Gulab, Marawara Subgovernor Mer Azam Gujoorwall and Kunar Subgovernor Fazullah Wahidi cut a ribbon marking the completion of the Nawabad to Marawara road in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, Oct. 26, 2009. The road represents a $2.7 million investment that paves the way for increased security and commerce in Kunar’s Marawara district. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brian Boisvert
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Oct. 26, 2009 – The road to economic success here is paved and has bridges linking both sides of the Kunar River.

The provincial government, with the help of the Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team, is making that success a reality with the 11.25-mile Asmar to Nishigam road and Marawara bridge span.

Dan Dunleavy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representative to the provincial reconstruction team, said the road project is well under way and will spur economic development and increased security in the province.

“I’m very pleased with what I saw. … They are doing a good job getting the project on track and constructing the road,” Dunleavy said. “The road is in a tough place that is frequently attacked by [insurgents]. Many trucks and transportation vehicles line the riverbed, because they were destroyed while traversing this road. Once completed, the road will improve safety in the area by giving security forces quicker access to the area to respond to threats.”

In the long term, Dunleavy said, the road will link the villages along the road to the provincial capital and beyond, which will in turn stimulate economic development.

The $5.1 million project was assessed at 30 percent complete. Dunleavy said the project got a little behind because insurgents used corn fields along the road to attack the workers and disrupt traffic.

“Now that the corn is harvested, the contractor is putting his workers back on the job and protecting them and his equipment,” Dunleavy said. “Overall, there are more than 100 workers employed on this project, and we saw eight different road crews working during the assessment.”

The provincial reconstruction team evaluated the progress of the Marawara truck bridge project and the approach roads. The new bridge, a little more than three miles north of Asadabad, will link the two sides of the Kunar River when it’s completed in November.

Though a few construction concerns need to be addressed with the contractor about the approach road, Dunleavy said, the bridge is in great shape and will be a vital thoroughfare linking the province together. Dawood, the lead construction engineer on the project, echoed that sentiment.

“The bridge is important to the people here,” said Dawood, who like many Afghans, goes by only one name. “We have to cross the river very far away, but now we are happy to get this work done and cross the river here.”

Pointing at the old bridge currently used to ford the river upstream, Dawood pointed out the differences between that bridge and the bridge under construction.

“This is a concrete bridge and very good and stable. That bridge over there is not stable, because it shakes and is very scary,” he said. “This is a very good improvement.”

The construction project is nearly complete, and was an economic engine for the province because it employed about 300 people from the local area at various times during the year-long, $1 million project. Dawood said once his company is done with the bridge, his workers will begin construction on a police station near the bridge.

“After this job, we will go to work on the construction project on the other side of the bridge. We will hire more local people, because it’s honorable to hire local people,” Dawood said. “We have to do the survey first, think about how many people we will need and then hire 200 or 300 workers, because it will take two years to build.”

(Air Force Capt. Tony Wickman serves in the Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team public affairs office.)

October 26, 2009: By Air Force Capt. Tony Wickman- Special to American Forces Press Service

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Last modified on Monday, 29 November 1999 16:00
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Army Col. Randy A. George speaks with Ziaulhaq Dinarkhel, chief judge of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, at a rule of law conference at the governor’s palace in Jalalabad, Oct. 11, 2009. The conference brought together lawmakers, police, nongovernmental organizations and other agencies from three provinces to discuss the future of law in Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Beth Raney

NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Members of Afghan legal rights departments and police from three Afghan provinces came together here Oct. 11 to discuss the strategy for improving the legal system in the northeast region.

The rule of law conference, held at the Nangarhar governor’s palace in Jalalabad, focused on the provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar and Laghman. The morning was filled with briefings and presentations by U.S. and Afghan agencies and nongovernmental organizations operating in eastern Afghanistan, including representatives from the U.S. State Department, the Supreme Court of Afghanistan and the Afghan Justice Sector Support Program.

“The conference succeeded in bringing all of these key players together into one room,” said Army Maj. Jeffrey Thurnher, Task Force Mountain Warrior’s legal officer, from Woodbridge, Va. “This was the first time all of these police and judicial leaders have gathered together for a regional conference.”

After lunch, the attendees reconvened and divided into three groups.

One group discussed building ties between the formal and informal legal systems. In many remote areas of Afghanistan, local elders and community council members resolve disputes and pass judgment outside the formal legal system. The second group discussed improving public awareness of legal rights, and the third worked on improving cooperation among prosecutors, police and courts to reduce arbitrary detentions.

“The hope was to develop two or three suggestions for how to handle each of those problems, and to challenge the group to begin implementing them,” Thurnher said. “They discussed ways to tackle some of the most challenging problems facing the legal systems of their provinces.”

Army Capt. Craig Scrogham, a native of Richmond Hill, Ga., and Task Force Mountain Warrior’s rule of law attorney, said the attendees also discussed a pilot program used in Kabul to track cases more effectively. Scrogham added that he hopes the program will be available in the area soon.

“The timing couldn't have been more perfect, because all the ministries joined together in Kabul the week after the conference and signed into law the use of this case-tracking system,” he said.

“Although we certainly did not develop a comprehensive strategy with just one meeting, we took a great step toward increasing cooperation between the groups and developed some great ideas for making changes,” Thurnher said.

“We have done training for rule of law before, but we have never brought all of these groups together for a session before,” Scrogham said. “Training normally has been specific to police or to prosecutors or to [Rights] Department officials. Being able to talk to everyone at once was one of the primary benefits of this session.”

Oct. 27, 2009 By Army Pfc. Beth Raney, Task Force Mountain Warrior Public Affairs Office-  Special to American Forces Press Service

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Last modified on Tuesday, 27 October 2009 11:44
WASHINGTON-  Eight U.S. troops and an Afghan civilian working with NATO forces
Last modified on Monday, 29 November 1999 16:00
WASHINGTON – International Security Assistance Force members
Last modified on Tuesday, 27 October 2009 11:21
Thursday, 29 January 2009 02:48

Afghanistan troop buildup a 'delicate endeavor'

Written by SOT Staff

By Gerry Gilmore 
American Forces Press Service  
 
WASHINGTON (Jan. 29, 2009) – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is expected to present the Pentagon’s proposal for a U.S. troop increase in Afghanistan to President Barack Obama in the near future, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Thursday.

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Marine Sgt. Brian Morris shovels dirt into protective barriers while building a combat outpost in the Farah province of Afghanistan earlier this month. The Marines can expect several thousand more U.S. troops to join them in Afghanistan in the coming months, according to Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates.
“I think everybody’s committed to doing this as quickly and responsibly as possible,” Morrell told Pentagon reporters. “In the coming days, the secretary hopes to present the president with his recommendation.”

Army Gen. David D. McKiernan, who commands U.S. forces in Afghanistan as well as NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, has asked his bosses for a 30,000-troop increase, which effectively would double the U.S. military contingent in Afghanistan.

Gates and other senior civilian and military officials at the Pentagon have said they believe it is necessary to send more troops to Afghanistan to suppress resurgent Taliban fighters and al-Qaida terrorists.

The White House is reviewing U.S. strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, Morrell said. Any U.S. troop increase for Afghanistan, he said, needs the approval of the new commander in chief.

Increased violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan threatens global security and constitutes “the central front in our enduring struggle against terrorism,” Obama said during a Jan. 22 visit to the State Department.

Obama also is studying several options presented to him by Pentagon officials for a drawdown of U.S. combat troops from Iraq.

During his Jan. 27 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gates said if Obama approves the Afghanistan troop increase, that most of those extra forces could be provided to McKiernan by midsummer.

Gates is mindful of the balancing of risk regarding U.S. troop strength in Iraq and Afghanistan, Morrell said, noting that the Iraq drawdown affects the numbers of additional troops available for deployment to Afghanistan.

Additionally, any increase of combat troops for Afghanistan, Morrell said, would require additional support forces as well.

“It’s a delicate plus-up, because you’ve got to do it commensurate to the infrastructure that exists” in austere Afghanistan, Morrell said. 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 04 March 2009 11:23
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