LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Capt. Jason Merchant, the company commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Ironman from Dysart, Iowa, hands out cards Dec. (click for more)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Lauren Hyman of Texarkana, Texas, armored vehicle driver for the 64th Military Police Company based at Combat Oupost Fortress, says hello to an (click for more)
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Taylor Gingrich, an infantry officer from Cedar Falls, Iowa, with Task Force Ironman, draws a smile from an Afghan boy as Gingrich (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Brian Stowe, a human resources specialist from Elkmont, Ala., with Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, sings a ballad he wrote and (click for more)
PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Servicemembers defend the wall after an improvised explosive device detonates on Forward Operating Base Lightning Dec. 5. (click for more)
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan and French military chiefs conduct a briefing before deployment during a security operation. Afghan National Security Forces and French Task Force Richelieu conducted Operation Montevideo (click for more)
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Phil Compton, Doty, Wash., Panjshir PRT engineer, and PRT local Afghan engineer Abid Wardak check the structural integrity of the retaining (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan family looks at their new family member after she was delivered by the Polish Army medical team at Forward Operating Base Warrior Jan. 3. (click for more)
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, maneuver through Sabari District during patrols to disrupt insurgent activity in the (click for more)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. Shawn Fouste, Decatur, Ill., noncommissioned officer in charge of the Freedom Restoration Center with the 455th Expeditionary Wing, Task Force Med, plays with (click for more)
The tree was the first of 35,000 trees to be planted throughout the province as part of a reforestation project.
Panjshir Gov. Keramuddin Keram; Panjshir Deputy Gov. Abdul Rahman Kabiri; Hashmatulah Enayat, the Panjshir Director of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock; U.S. Army Col. Hunter Mathews, Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team II commander; Elizabeth Smithwick, U.S. Agency for International Development lead field officer at Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team and acting PRT director; U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jay Briggs, Panjshir PRT commander; U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jeffrey Casada, Kentucky National Guard ADT leader with Panjshir PRT; Jim Hoffman, U.S. Department of Agriculture advisor to Panjshir PRT; Jean-Pierre Detry, Roots of Peace lead extension advisor; and members of the Afghan media were among those to witness the ceremony.
“Due to many years of war, the people and environment of Afghanistan are damaged by the fighting,” said Keram through an interpreter. “This is true especially in Panjshir. There are no trees; the environment is devastated.”
The Panjshir governor continued his speech and emphasized the importance of caring for the trees.
“Try to imagine the beauty of the trees and vegetation in the future. We need to take care of these trees now,” said Keram. “I am asking for your help to do this. These trees are important.”
The project was made possible by the Commander’s Emergency Response Program with oversight by Roots of Peace, a non-profit organization dedicated to removing landmines and spreading agriculture in war-torn nations.
The greenbelt will contribute to cleaner water, slope stabilization and help decrease soil erosion, said Casada, a London, Ky., native. He also said 70 new jobs will be created in the province for the upkeep of the trees for one year.
“There are many benefits of this project, but the most important thing is for the people to take care of the trees, to ensure sheep and goats don’t graze on them,” Casada continued. “The seedlings won’t survive if that happens.”
Approximately 30 to 35 percent of the trees planted in the greenbelt are expected to live, said Casada.
“But we are using a lot of different techniques to increase the success rate,” Casada said. “For instance, we are using landscape fabric to keep in moisture and minimize weeds.”
“As in any great project, it has taken many great partners to cooperate on this,” said Mathews from Lexington, Ky. “Most importantly, the hard work of the people of Panjshir.”
The ceremony concluded with the Panjshir governor and Kentucky ADT II commander planting the first trees.
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