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    ANA, Coalition forces establish GIRoA presence in Herat province

    HERAT PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN

    07.23.2010

    Story by Sgt. Brian Kester 

    NATO Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan

    HERAT PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Improving Afghan governance, infrastructure and economy require a concerted effort and the Afghan and Coalition forces operating in Herat province are focused and determined to improve the quality of life for the people there.

    Many parts of the country have never known centralized governance, lack basic social services and infrastructure, and require expanded capacity to meet the needs of the people. The Afghan National Army soldiers of the 207th Corps partnered with Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan Special Operations Forces recently set out to do just that in Darrah-I-Bum district – make a difference.

    There will be no Hollywood ‘red-carpet’ treatment laid out for these brave warriors whose goal is to make the region safer and secure as they lay the foundation for the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

    Since arriving to the area, the Taliban and other insurgents living in the area have made the combined force feel at home by welcoming them with rocket-propelled grenade, small-arms and machine gun fire attacks. As they continue to set up checkpoints and a forward operating base in the area, a key element to achieving their goals will be in establishing a long-term presence the local people can rely upon for support.

    “Showing Afghan people who live in remote areas of the country about the benefits of a centralized government, such as commerce and infrastructure, are essential to our mission,” said a Marine SOF team commander. “The team’s existence in Darrah-I-Bum is consistent with the Regional Command-West Campaign Plan, part of which, is to build overarching support in key locations along Highway 1.”

    The value of the mission is in establishing not just a presence, but a lasting impression on the local populace. And with the Taliban living in and around the areas the partnered force are operating in, a lot has to be taken into consideration.

    “Right now it doesn’t matter too much to the locals that we are setting up a forward operating base in their district,” said the SOF team commander. “The importance of earning their trust is essential in securing the southern end of the Murghab River Valley.

    “Success in this district could affect the drug passages and safe havens that pass though the region,” he said. “Until they realize we are here to stay as long as we’re needed, we won’t be able to make as big of an impact on the local villagers as we’re capable of making.”

    The presence of the partnered force in the area is a sensitive issue.

    Darrah-I-Bum district has a history of corruption, drug trafficking and is a known safe haven for the Taliban and insurgents.

    “No matter what side of the line a person stands, the lives and livelihood of the people are on the line here,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael O’Connor, a CJSOTF-A spokesman. “Curving corruption and decreasing narcotics trafficking isn’t going to be easy; however, the toughness of the mission will not deter the ANA or SOF team members in their endeavor to create a lasting presence for GIRoA.”

    Often times, in order for success to come, sacrifices, both small and large, have to be made. For the 28-million-plus people living in Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, it’s no different.

    “By building the FOB in Darrah-I-Bum, we can set the conditions for follow on forces to take over and hopefully see future success in the region,” said the SOF team commander.

    “With security, sustained economic development and effective governance for the Afghan citizens weighing in the balance, we believe those sacrifices are a price worth paying.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 07.23.2010
    Date Posted: 07.24.2010 00:12
    Story ID: 53308
    Location: HERAT PROVINCE, AF 

    Web Views: 415
    Downloads: 208

    PUBLIC DOMAIN