Northern Afghanistan Sees Security, Governance Progress

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2010 — Mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in four north­ern Afghanistan provinces are yield­ing progress in secu­ri­ty and train­ing pro­grams, and in the kind of devel­op­ment that links peo­ple and their gov­ern­ment, the 1st Brigade Com­bat Team com­man­der said today.
In a live dig­i­tal video con­fer­ence from Camp Mike Spann in Mazar‑e Sharif, Army Col. Willard Burleson updat­ed reporters on the work his brigade, a com­po­nent of the 10th Moun­tain Divi­sion, is doing in Region­al Command-North. 

“Recent Afghan-led oper­a­tions with [the U.N.-led Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force] in Kun­duz and Bagh­lan have allowed the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces and the gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan to expand into areas where insur­gents pre­vi­ous­ly had oper­at­ed freely,” Burleson said. 

These oper­a­tions, he added, “have enabled the expan­sion of gov­ern­ment ser­vices to now-safe havens and improved the population’s sen­ti­ment toward its gov­ern­ment.” Burleson’s 3,500-soldier brigade deployed through­out Afghanistan in March and April. 

One bat­tal­ion task force is head­quar­tered in Kab­ul, work­ing as part of the NATO train­ing mis­sion, and the cav­al­ry squadron is in Kandahar’s Dand dis­trict, he said. But most of the brigade is in Region­al Com­mand-North, oper­at­ing main­ly in the north­ern provinces of Faryab, Balkh, Kun­duz and Baghlan. 

Their mis­sion is to part­ner with the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces there, specif­i­cal­ly the Afghan Nation­al Police and the Afghan Nation­al Bor­der Police. 

“As we con­duct com­pre­hen­sive oper­a­tions — that’s secu­ri­ty, gov­er­nance and devel­op­ment — with the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces,” Burleson said, “we seek to neu­tral­ize the insur­gency in these key-ter­rain and area-of-inter­est districts.” 

Brigade mem­bers also help the Afghan Bor­der Police in part­nered oper­a­tions at the Hairatan and Sher Khan bor­der-cross­ing points, Burleson said. “We were real­ly the first siz­able Amer­i­can force to oper­ate in this area, to assist in areas where there have been secu­ri­ty issues. And there still are but I think they’re get­ting bet­ter,” Burleson said. 

Two months ago, he added, Afghan forces planned, led and exe­cut­ed– an oper­a­tion in Takhar province near the bor­der with Tajik­istan. An insur­gent threat in that remote loca­tion had been large­ly untouched. 

“The police zone com­man­der here at the 303rd Police coor­di­nat­ed it with the bor­der zone com­man­der and then with a lit­tle bit of the army,” Burleson said, “and they con­duct­ed the oper­a­tion them­selves” with some help from ISAF enablers and close-air support. 

“But they planned and con­duct­ed the oper­a­tion,” Burleson said. “That says a lot about the inter­nal secu­ri­ty forces being able to solve prob­lems themselves.” 

Anoth­er suc­cess­ful effort involves the Afghan Peace and Rein­te­gra­tion Pro­gram spon­sored by the gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan, he said. 

The pro­gram extends a hand to com­bat­ant groups, offer­ing them full rights as Afghan cit­i­zens and a dig­ni­fied way to renounce vio­lence and rein­te­grate them­selves into local communities. 

“To date we’ve seen approx­i­mate­ly 100 for­mer insur­gents rein­te­grate up here, with anoth­er cou­ple-hun­dred at vary­ing steps in the process,” Burleson said. 

“These ini­tial rein­te­gra­tion num­bers,” he said, “are an indi­ca­tor of the will­ing­ness of some of our for­mer fight­ers to become decent mem­bers of the soci­ety who sup­port the Afghan government.” 

Much of the rein­te­gra­tion — as with near­ly all progress in Afghanistan, where estab­lish­ing rela­tion­ships is a crit­i­cal cul­tur­al imper­a­tive — is based on good rela­tion­ships, Burleson said. 

Speed­ing inte­gra­tion depends on rela­tion­ships among the secu­ri­ty force com­man­ders, the provin­cial chiefs of police and the provin­cial gov­er­nors, he said. 

“Police lead­ers call peo­ple they know and say, ‘Look, it’s time to come in, time for the fight­ing to end,’ ” the colonel added. “And that’s real­ly how some of this rein­te­gra­tion starts.” 

Dur­ing their time in the region, Burleson said, brigade mem­bers have been able to con­tribute to devel­op­ment efforts that improve the rela­tion­ship between peo­ple and their government. 

“Edu­ca­tion is para­mount in any soci­ety, specif­i­cal­ly edu­ca­tion­al facil­i­ties for young women, who under the Tal­iban cer­tain­ly were denied that oppor­tu­ni­ty,” he said. 

“It’s not uncom­mon now to see large groups of young girls going to and from school on the streets of Mazar‑e Sharif, Maimana or Kun­duz in this area,” Burleson said, “and I think it’s a sign of progress, at least in north­ern Afghanistan.” 

Commander’s Emer­gency Response Pro­gram funds have been employed to replace don­key carts and bus­es with gov­ern­ment-spon­sored vehi­cles to pro­vide Afghan dis­trict and deputy gov­er­nors bet­ter access to their pop­u­la­tions, he said. 

“We’ve also had projects in Faryab where, under the lead­er­ship of the gov­er­nor and deputy gov­er­nor, they’ve pro­vid­ed street lights,” Burleson said. 

The increased secu­ri­ty in and around com­mu­ni­ties pro­motes com­merce. Street ven­dors stay open lat­er and peo­ple can shop lat­er in well-lit areas. 

“It’s a vis­i­ble improve­ment in people’s lives as a result of their gov­ern­ment doing things for them,” he said. “A lot of this is con­nect­ing the gov­ern­ment to the peo­ple through their secu­ri­ty forces and with the help of the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force.” 

In down­town Mazar‑e Sharif in Balkh province, Burleson said, “Gov­er­nor Atta has secu­ri­ty, he’s got devel­op­ment and he’s got a form of effec­tive gov­er­nance. A place like that sets the exam­ple for what dif­fer­ent parts of Afghanistan can become.” 

A lot of work remains in all those areas, he added. 

“But we’re see­ing progress,” Burleson said. “And I am con­fi­dent that, in time, the Afghans will be able to take [con­trol] and cer­tain­ly this increased [NATO‑U.S.] pres­ence will not be required.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →