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    Nawa: the essence of progress



    Story by Cpl. Jeff Drew 

    II Marine Expeditionary Force   

    CAMP LEATHERNECK, Helmand province, Afghanistan – Extensive improvements in Nawa district and exceptional Afghan leadership has transformed the once improvised explosive device-laden area into a peaceful paragon of progress during the last year. Residents walk casually along roads and waterways, confident in local Afghan security forces to keep them safe. The growth of illegal drugs has been nearly eradicated as citizens have begun to see the benefits of growing legal crops. Interest in education is on the rise, ensuring a brighter future for the people of Nawa. The people are happy, healthy and hopeful.

    “Over the past 30 years Nawa lost everything, but now the government system is active,” said Haji Abdul Manaf, the district governor of Nawa. “There was no rule, but now there is; there was no education, but now there is; there was no security, but now there is; there were no human rights, but now there is; there was poppy, but now it has been eradicated. The people laid down their weapons, and there was peace.”

    When coalition forces arrived two years ago, they brought with them a sense of safety and security. Since then, Marines and sailors have worked closely with the Afghan National Security Forces within Nawa to improve security and support development.

    “Ever since the coalition forces came to Nawa district, all of a sudden security came to Nawa district,” said Haji Ahmad Shah, the Nawa district chief of police. “People cooperated with the government. (The people) put themselves in harms way and brought security to Nawa.”

    Local Afghan security forces have taken responsibility for the safety of Nawa residents with transition of security responsibility from coalition forces in December. The increased security in the last year is also enabling an ever-growing interest in education to develop. Student registration has risen from 7,893 in November 2010 to a current 8,828 within the district. One new school is currently under construction, with two more tentatively on the way to handle the influx of new students. They will join the other 15 operational schools within the district to educate future generations of Nawans.

    Other projects are prevalent within the district as well, to include basic refurbishments to shops within the bazaars and a new solar power project to power local establishments throughout the day.

    “The biggest project we have right now is the Marine Road that goes from Nawa to Lashkar Gah,” said Stephan City, Va., native Cmdr. Edward Leitz the civil military medical officer and education and development chief for 2nd Marine Division (Forward). “It’s a 23 kilometer road that is the crown jewel of the development projects. It will improve the freedom of movement and connect the people of Nawa to the provincial center in Lashkar Gah. The road will connect farmers and other businesses to wider markets, not only in Lashkar Gah, but also throughout Afghanistan, by connecting them to the major road networks.”

    Marine Road, named by Manaf for the hard work of the United States Marines, will make a dynamic and positive difference for the economy of Nawa. Agriculture value chains are heavily dependent on paved roads and the ability to transport harvested crops quickly. Connecting farmers to markets with easily traversed roads reduces transportation costs, thereby allowing the average Nawa citizen to retain more money in their pockets according to Leitz.

    “There is a lot of progress and development here. There is not any place where there isn’t any rule of law or any justice. We have good human rights in Nawa, there are no family problems, and there is no crime.”

    The paved road will also make it more difficult to plant IEDs and will provide ANSF more freedom of movement, allowing them to maintain a solid foundation of security in the region. These improvements support the main focus of transitioning security control of the Helmand province to the Afghan forces. Nawa has taken the steps needed to transition; the challenge now is to maintain the growth of progress.

    For more information on progress in Nawa and the rest of Southwestern Afghanistan, view video interviews with Afghan officials at "New series gives voice to Afghan leaders” or visit the division’s unit page at the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System.

    Editor’s note: Second Marine Division (Forward) heads Task Force Leatherneck, the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest), and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.



    Date Taken: 02.09.2012
    Date Posted: 02.09.2012 03:09
    Story ID: 83565

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