News: Ambassador tours village of Baraki Barak
Story by Sgt. Matthew Thompson
U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, accompanied by Logar provincial governor, Attiqullah Ludin, and Lt. Col. Thomas Gukeisen, commander, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, walked together down the busy street of the Baraki Barak's bazaar, Nov. 10.
Smiling faces, warm handshakes and even a cup of Chai tea were just a few of the indicators from the local nationals that the partnership efforts between the U.S. and Afghanistan has crawled from the battlefield and reached the local population in one of the busiest districts of the eastern province.
Eikenberry, a former U.S. Army Lt. Gen., previously served as the commander of the Combined Forces Command in 2006, remarked how protective measures had improved in the area.
"After the past year, with the hard efforts of the Afghan national army, police, national directorate of security, and I'll say very proudly with the hard work of the U.S. and the Czech military forces, there have been noticeable improvements in the area," added the ambassador. "Last year, I could not have dreamed of walking through the bazaar of Baraki Barak."
Echoing his statements, the Logar chief of police, Gen. Mustafa Husseini added, "Now we can maintain good security. It's all because of good coordination and partnership."
However, success for the ambassador wasn't just limited to a peaceful stroll through the crowded market. His interaction with local merchants and several young children further emphasized the success of the U.S. and Afghan partnership, which is paving the way for better commerce and more education.
As a result of Operation Extreme Makeover projects in the area, Task Force Iron Titan Soldiers from 3-71 CAV have improved relations with their neighbors and security throughout the district.
"A lot of the development is focused on the most secured area around Baraki Barak," Eikenberry explained. "In the last four months there has been more than $1 million of U.S. developmental assistance in Baraki Barak."
At a shop, the ambassador noticed a grade-school child attempting to peer through the crowd assembled at the front door.
Upon learning the young boy was in third grade, the ambassador leaned in and asked, "Are you a good student?"
The smile and a nod from the smallest person in the crowd put a smile on the ambassador's face.
A few minutes later, the ambassador stopped at a produce stand. "Where do you get your apples?"
The response was Logar. He then chose 10 from the pile and continued his walk through the market.
According to 3-71 CAV records provided to the ambassador, other projects include 18 schools in the Baraki Barak district that have benefited from almost $7,000 for desks and repainting of the schools and two greenhouses that will improve agricultural development in Baraki Barak.
The ambassador went into further detail of the completed projects the TF Iron Titan Soldiers have finished including the renovations of 24 mosques in the area.
"That's the United States of America that has provided assistance to 24 mosques. The extremist militant enemies of the government and people of Afghan say through propaganda we are enemies of the great religion of Islam," Eikenberry said. "I give this as evidence of what my country stands for. We stand for religious freedom and for respect of great religions like Islam."
During a press conference, Eikenberry highlighted the success of the partnership between the U.S. military and Afghan national security forces.
"I see tremendous progress that's been made over the past year in the amount of coordination and cooperation that takes place between the ANSF and NATO forces," Eikenberry said. "The US Army is proud to be leading NATO efforts to further develop, train and equip the ANA and ANP."
According to Husseini, through the efforts of the ANSF and ISAF they have accomplished a lot.
"If we continue like this, I can assure you we will have a strong ANP and ANA, and we will have better security and prosperity in our country," Husseini added.
"We stand here ready to continue to help the people," Eikenberry said. "We are proud of the accomplishments and are trying to provide hope against an enemy that only destroys."