ANA Soldiers receive vaccinations at Parsa

KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan National Army basic trainee receives a vaccination Sept. 28. (click for more)

TF Viper mechanics keep helicopters flying

U.S. Army Sgt. Craig Hayward, powertrain mechanic and native of Huntingtown, Md., assigned to Company D, Task Force Viper attempts to loosen a bolt on a rotor head from an (click for more)

TF Currahee mortarmen get job done

Army Pfc. Armando J. Ramos, from Victorville, Calif., and Army Spc. Michael W. Dough,from Manteo, N.C., prepare to run a crew drill Sept. 27 on Combat Outpost Munoz. The mortarmen (click for more)

Spartan Soldiers inspect carpet factory

U.S. Army Capt. Klayton D. Barrows verifies the presence of weaving loom equipment at a newly built carpet factory in Chek Nawar Village of La Por District in eastern Afghanistan’s (click for more)

Demons engage with Goshta leaders

NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army 1st Lt. Dan Konopa of Kokomo, Ind., Task Force No Slack, talks with an Afghan leader about a project in the Goshta District in (click for more)

Coalition, Afghan forces conduct air assault in Chak

WARDAK PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A paratrooper from Attack Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team speaks with village elders in Chak District, Wardak Province, during Operation (click for more)

Civil affairs Soldiers bring diverse skills to Laghman PRT

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army 1st Lt. David Moore of Barrington, N.J., Laghman PRT civil affairs officer, listens as a young man reads from an ISAF newspaper during a (click for more)

Unit visits with community residents, officials

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Kermit O. Scott of Columbia, S.C., a team leader with 3rd Platoon, Company D, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Bulldog, greets (click for more)

U.S., Afghan servicemembers respond during attack

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan National Army soldier stands guard at Forward Operating Base Thunder, one of three bases insurgents attacked in eastern Afghanistan Sept. 24. (click for more)

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General Information 

Afghanistan is comprised of 34 provinces with a population of approximately 27 million.  98 percent of the country are Muslims (80 percent Sunni and 20 percent Shiite), and the other two percent are Hindus, Zoroastrians, and Jews.  Major languages are Dari and Pashto with a small percentage of Tajiki and Uzbeki.  Major ethnic groups are: Pashtuns-40 percent, Tajiks – 25 percent, Hazara – 18 percent, Uzbeks, Aimaqs, Turkmen and others 17 percent.

The capital of Afghanistan is Kabul.  Major cities in the south which border Pakistan are Zabul, Kandahar, Helmand, Nimroz, and in the east are Paktika, Khost, Paktya, Nangarhar, Kunar, and Nuristan;  to the north bordering Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan are Badakshan, Takhar, Kunduz, Samangan, Balkh, Jozjon, Faryab and Badghis; in the west to Iran are Herat and Farah.

Afhganistan’s hand-woven rugs are world renowned.  Some of the best Lapis lazuli, Emerald, and Ruby come from the Northern areas.   Dried nuts and fruits, pomegranates, and grapes are among the export products.


A Brief History of Afghanistan:

Although Afghanistan is an extremely impoverished country but it is a tapestry of rich culture, history, and ethnicities.  Many colorful threads of diverse ethnicities are apparent in this ancient historical land.

The geographic location of Afghanistan is in the heart of Asia, but, sometimes it is ascribed to be in South Asia or even in the Middle East because of its cultural and ethno-linguistic links with its neighbors.  The large borders to Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and much smaller eastern border to China have made Afghanistan the trade route and the crossroads of Asia and the Middle East.

Throughout the history, from the ancient times to today, Afghanistan has seen many invading military forces come and go including Indo-Iranians, Greeks, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Russians, Americans, and NATO forces.
 
In 1978, the Republic of Afghanistan government was established.  In 1978, the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan took over the government by a military coup.  The opposition of the communist party organized an anti-government Mujahideen resistance.  In the meantime, as part of the Cold War strategy, the National Security Advisor, Brzezinski, started to fund and to strengthen the Mujahideen through the Inter Services Intelligence of Pakistan.  The Mujahideen movement was a symbol of discontentment of Muslims against the atheist government that followed Marxism.  By December 1979, the Soviet Union invasion took place resulting in over five million Afghans leaving their country and becoming refugees to Pakistan, Iran and other countries.  After losing 15,000 troops and the harsh economic impacts of a 10-year war, the Soviet Union withdrew its troops completely in 1989.

The Mujahideen governed Afghanistan from 1989 to 1994 when a civil war erupted due to friction between political parties.  The rise of the Taliban to govern Afghanistan occurred in 1996. 

By the end of 2000, the Taliban controlled over 95 percent of the country and imposed the fundamentalist and strict Islamic Sharia law.  On September 9, 2001 two Al-Qaeda terrorists posed as reporters and assassinated the Northern Alliance leader and the great Mujahid, Ahmad Shah Massoud.  In 2001, the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 December 2009 09:40
 

    

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*Journalist’s Note: The information contained in this article is derived from the International Security Assistance Force’s Reintegration Guide.

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