News: Members of Afghan media, military meet during luncheon
Story by Sgt. Antony Lee
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Several public affairs officers and members of the local Afghan media participated in a luncheon at Kandahar International Airport, Feb. 9, 2014, to meet one another and share contact information.
Wayne Crawford, a public diplomacy officer for the U.S. Department of State, organized the event along with Lt. Col. Armando Hernandez, chief public affairs officer for Regional Command (South). It was the second meeting of the sort, but first with public affairs representatives from both the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police present.
“We just want everybody to know who is who,” Hernandez said as he kicked off the meeting. “When something happens – when it’s security related – it’s very important for us to share information with you so you can have it as accurately and as quickly as possible.”
During the meeting, participants introduced themselves to each other and handed out business cards, becoming familiar with one another with hopes they could improve the communication process between them in the future.
Lt. Col. M. Mohsin “Sultani,” head of the 205th Hero Corps press office, attended the luncheon and said it was a pleasure to meet those in attendance.
His deputy, Capt. Ahmad Sadeq, agreed, saying it was a good opportunity to “get introduced to each other in person” especially because he had previously spoken with local journalists on the phone, but had not met them face-to-face until the meeting.
“The event went very [well],” he said, adding that he was thankful to the organizers and that he learned how to manage this type of meeting. “If we want to arrange this type of event in the future, we know how to do that.”
Crawford said the goal is that future meetings would have fewer and fewer U.S. officials and more and more Afghan officials.
“Hopefully, they will keep meeting without us,” Crawford said.
Ahmad Wali, the director of Hewad Group – a private media organization in Kandahar province, was one of the local members of the media who attended the luncheon. He said the meeting enabled the representatives of the various groups to help each other out.
“We are a medium for the government to deliver their message to the people,” he said, adding that it was important to share information and raise public awareness about the “importance of elections” and the “importance of voting,” especially as the April presidential elections inch closer.
Mustafa Durani, a finance manager for Merman Radio – which launched March 2011 and focuses on covering women, said it helped in making it easier to communicate with Afghan National Security Forces and with the International Security Assistance Force.
“It will be easier for us to connect with the Afghan military,” he said. “Before, we were not connecting with ISAF, but due to this meeting, we will be able to have a relationship with them in the future.”