News: 82nd Airborne Division Special Troops Battalion supports local district
Story by Pfc. Cody Thompson
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — The 82nd Airborne Division Special Troops Battalion, Company B commander met with local Afghan leaders, June 20, in Dandar village, Afghanistan.
Army Capt. Booker Wilson, commander Company B, 82nd Airborne Division Special Troops Battalion from Fort Bragg, N.C., met each leader to seek resolutions to the major issues affecting villages in Kohe Safi district, Parwan province. According to the elders and shura leaders, a few of their concerns are quality of drinking water, dilapidated irrigation systems and roads, lack of jobs, security, schools and school supplies.
According to the Central Intelligence Agency, the unemployment rate in Afghanistan is approximately 40 percent. New jobs could usher in the potential for increased money, which would bolster the local economy.
"Almost everyone in our village is jobless, so they go to Iran and Pakistan for work," said Naqibullah, village elder and teacher for Sanjali village.
After the villager explained his plight, Wilson carefully explained his plans and potential solutions.
"Find us contractors from across the province and hire locals from your village, and when I return we will pay you to build schools and fix the irrigation systems and roads," Wilson, a Jackson, Miss., native, offered Naqibullah.
Security was the concern for one village elder, although others reported little Taliban activity.
"I have been working with coalition forces and Afghan national police and would like to continue to in the future," said Lalsaid, a village elder from Lalabamba. "We've had problems with the Taliban, but if we had more security it would be safer."
Wilson said he would "look into bringing a larger security presence to Lalabamba Village."
"We are trying to incorporate area support groups with police mentorships and U.S. Soldiers to increase security in the village," said Army 1st Sgt. Ramah Wilson, 82nd Airborne DSTB Company B.
Afghans in Dandar village have to travel far to receive medical treatment where time could potentially prove fatal. One elder requested the construction of a health clinic in Dandar for the locals residing there.
"In the summer it is easy to travel to the hospital in Kabul, but in the winter the roads are covered with snow and we cannot drive there," said Mohammad, the village elder for Dandar.
Wilson's goal is to distribute payments to multiple contractors who will hire the locals from across the province to build better schools, clinics and roads.
"A civil affairs team assesses what would be gained by placing a school in a certain location," said Ramah Wilson. "Building a school creates an investment in that area."
With these new resources at hand, the villagers can bolster their local economy and potentially create an environment where they can build a better Afghanistan.