News: Afghan colonel works to free farmers from Taliban taxation
By U.S. Army 1st Lt. R. Joshua McHenry
4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army Lt. Col. Mirweis led his soldiers to victory in western Paktika province recently, improving the livelihood for the people of the province.
The mission for the ANA Kandak, in partnership with the Fort Riley, Kan., based 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, was to clear known insurgent locations in the lesser traveled Omnah district.
At first light on June 14, the operation commenced.
The people in the valley of Omnah are mainly farmers who are known for their production of pine nuts, their main source of revenue. The area was also known to be an insurgent stronghold. In the past, the insurgents would tax the populace by taking a part of the farmers’ pine nut harvests.
Getting over the pass to Omnah seemed like an easy task to the motivated Mirweis, the Kandak commander, as he led his soldiers with their armored trucks into the valley and straight to the village of Spina.
At noon on the same day, Mirweis requested to speak to the elders of Omnah and Spina in a security shura, or meeting. The people responded as dozens of elders came to speak with the Afghan army.
Mirweis led the discussion by saying that he understood that the Taliban intimidated the people by stealing their harvests and that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will not tolerate such criminal activities. He then promised that he intended to provide a safe and secure environment for the people in Omnah, but it was also their duty to help provide information on Taliban operating in the area.
The shura concluded as he said that the people of Omnah are a strong and proud people, and that together they will stand up to the enemy.