News: Afghan leaders discuss issues, promote unity
Story by Cpl. Ned Johnson
FORWARD OPERATING BASE DEHLI, Helmand province, Afghanistan – While most shuras, meetings with local elders, last approximately an hour, the leaders of southern Helmand province held an all-day event to discuss critical issues throughout the region.
District governors and government officials, along with Marines of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, met for a Regional Stability Shura in Garmsir, Oct. 14.
Mohammed Fahim, the governor of Garmsir and host of the event, opened by marking the importance of the day.
“Today, we can meet because my district is one of the safest in Helmand province, which allows us to rebuild and bring stabilization to the area,” Fahim said.
After the initial introduction, Afghan and Marine leaders began discussing future plans for stability and development. The day-long shura was planned by the Afghan leaders of Garmsir and was divided into three main topics: education, agriculture and security.
“We have many schools that are now open in the area,” Fahim said. “They do not all have permanent structures, but our children are learning.”
Due to the large amount of government officials that attended, this was anything but an ordinary meeting.
“The district governors were given a forum to discuss these issues with the people who can make things happen,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Watson, commanding officer of 3rd Bn., 1st Marines.
These types of meetings, across Helmand, show a positive improvement in the government here, Watson added.
“We’re starting to see coordination and the sharing of good ideas and challenges across the districts,” said Watson, a native of Syracuse, N.Y. “They are discussing issues with their Afghan partners, so Afghans are solving Afghan problems.”
The Marines of 3/1 continued their mission of assisting the Afghans, but remembered that the ultimate goal is for the Afghan government to be self-sufficient.
“We assisted the Afghans with security and coordinated transportation,” Watson said. “But the agenda and majority of the day was run by the Afghans.”
While many issues were brought up, the main theme mentioned by each of the governors was the security of their district.
Abdul Matali, the Nawa district governor, said that his district is very secure and that anyone can tell by safely walking through the bazaar.
The governors also gave credit to the Afghan National Army and Police for the security.
“The village of Safaar has now been cleared of Taliban thanks to the ANA and the help of their Marine partners,” Fahim added.
Fahim also said that the ANP continue to enforce the law and keep the streets of the region secure.
At the conclusion of the meetings, Fahim gave a motivational speech and everyone clapped, a positive sign of the shura’s success.
“We will continue to have these meetings because the area is safe to do so,” Fahim said proudly. “In the future we will have more schools and security because of the issues discussed here today.”