50 graduate Fatima Girls High School

Tabasum Sharqi (left) opens a book she received for graduating at the top of her Fatima Girls High School class at a ceremony held at the Kunar Department of Women’s (click for more)

Polish and US Forces bond through weapons

Soldiers from the Polish Army and the Texas National Guard Agribusiness Development Team-IV check their shot grouping during qualification on the Polish AK-74 5.56 mm Mini-Beryl short assault rifle Feb. (click for more)

TF Duke Soldiers volley for peace

U.S. Army Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, play an impromptu game of volleyball against a team (click for more)

Nurgaram District leaders electrify Nangaresh schools

Dr. Mehirulla Muslim, the Nurgaram District subgovernor, addresses an audience of teachers, government officials and citizens during a ceremony to celebrate a completed solar panel electricity project Feb. 21 in (click for more)

10th CAB Soldiers bring communications to Bagram’s east side

U.S. Army Spc. Raheem Stewart, an automations specialist with TF Phoenix, steps along the rafters of the building his team helped wire for communications. Stewart, from Dallas, was one of (click for more)

ANA, Red Bulls search Parwai during Operation Brass Monkey

An Afghan National Army soldier from Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Infantry Regiment, searches a pile of rocks in the courtyard of a high-value target home outside the village of (click for more)

Female engagement teams trained to aid communication with Afghan women

U.S. Army Capt. Nicole Zupka of Fair Lawn, N.J., a battlewatch captain with Combined Joint Task Force-Paladin, helps an Afghan child with her writing skills during female engagement team training (click for more)

ANA, TF Storm break trail, make difference in Kharwar

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers move through Kharwar District to prevent the Taliban’s freedom of movement Feb. 12. U.S. and Afghan soldiers braved more than 3 feet (click for more)

Ky. ADT II begins Panjshir sheep parasite project

Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team II members, U.S. Army Spc. Justin Allen (left), a London, Ky., native, and U.S. Army Sgt. Nicholas Combs, a Corbin, Ky., native, get to know a (click for more)

Engineer Soldiers deliver aid to Afghans

An Afghan carrying a child approaches U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Peter Moeller of Atkins, Iowa, a medic with Task Force Red Bulls, for humanitarian aid at Qale-Mussa Pain Middle School (click for more)

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PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Capt. Michael Butler, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Urgun civil affairs team chief from Chicago, gives an Afghan boy a wooden, toy car March 28. The PRT met with Khallafai Rashedeen students and teachers to distribute school supplies. Because of the poverty in outlying villages like Ali Haydar, many families have trouble purchasing basic school supplies like notebooks and pencils. The PRT works continuously to support the reconstruction of Paktika Province through its partnership with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ashley N. Avecilla, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Urgun is one of the major districts of focus for coalition forces when it comes to governance and reconstruction efforts in Paktika Province.

U.S. Army Capt. Mike Butler, who calls Chicago home, is the only member of Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Civil Affairs deployed to Forward Operating Base Orgun-East.


“Civil affairs in Urgun works with our civilian partners to develop the capacity of district-level government and foster economic development,” Butler said. “We also interact with the local populace to understand their needs.”

Not only does Butler perform CA duties in Urgun, but he is also the officer in charge of the PRT detachment there made up of U.S. Army security forces, a U.S. Navy mechanic and medic, as well as U.S. government civilians and Afghan linguists.

Besides ensuring each member of the team is operating in their area of expertise, Butler works with the district governors of the Urgun and Sarobi Districts toward the common goal of building Afghan capacity.

Butler also meets with the line directors for education and agriculture, as well as rural reconstruction and development. Provincial line directors are the Afghans who work for the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan by representingtheir ministry at the provincial level.

For now, Butler said his primary area of focus is education, especially for girls.

“The Ministry of Education and elders are recognizing the importance that all of their children go to school,” he explained.

Although village elders are not members of GIRoA, building relationships with them is critical because they play a key role in Afghan culture.  Afghans typically revere elders in their village and rely on them for settling disputes and making other decisions.

At shuras, another part of Afghan culture similar to town hall meetings, GIRoA leaders and elders address villagers, and often conduct a question and answer session.

According to Butler, the government in Urgun is still immature, so seemingly small achievements are actually big steps. As an example, he said a major CA breakthrough was getting the district governors and shuras to work with the PRT to develop plans for providing ongoing services to their people.

In addition to developing plans for the provision of basic government services, Butler hopes to work with GIRoA to expand education and improve conditions for agriculture.

“Agriculture is still the main driver of the Paktika economy,” he said. “Everything we do will be in partnership with the district governments and shuras. This is how we will develop the capacity of the government to deliver services to the populace.”
While progress is being made, Butler said governance is still a challenge based on Afghans who voice their frustration with the lack of more basic services. Despite obstacles, Butler knows patience is the key when it comes to developing capacity of governance in east Paktika.

“This will be a long process,” he said. “However, in the long run it offers the best prospect for peace in Afghanistan.”
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Capt. Michael Butler, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Urgun civil affairs team chief from Chicago, and Mohammad Aziz, Paktika Urgun District Deputy Director of Education, meet with the teachers of Abu Herera School March 27. Butler delivered backpacks and school supplies to Aziz for distribution to the students on their first day at school following the winter break. Both boys and girls attend grades 1-6, and study subjects like math, Dari and Pashto. The PRT has dedicated their efforts to supporting similar efforts throughout the province and works closely with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in major districts like Urgun. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ashley N. Avecilla, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 March 2011 04:17


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Coalition forces engage insurgents in Kapisa

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Coalition forces killed seven insurgents in defensive operations in the Alah Say District, Kapisa Province, eastern Afghanistan, March 29.

Coalition forces and aircraft responded to an insurgent attack. Four insurgents were killed by air strike and three were killed by direct fire from coalition forces.

All rounds were reported safe and on target. There were no reports of injuries or damages to civilians in the area.

ANSF, ISAF begin major operation in Laghman valley

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Afghan National Security Forces, partnered with U.S. Task Forces Red Bulls and Phoenix and French Task Force La Fayette, began operations in Galuch Valley, Laghman Province, March 25.

Soldiers of the Afghan National Army’s 201st Corps, Afghan National Police’s 202nd Shamshod and the U.S. Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, TF Red Bulls, supported by the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, TF Phoenix, conducted an air assault into the valley to remove enemy forces. Battle Group Richelieu, TF La Fayette, provided artillery support from Kapisa Province.

While conducting operations, the forces found multiple weapons caches including assorted rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, Russian rockets, materials to make homemade explosives, various other ordnances and communication equipment.  

While moving through the valley, unit leadership met with village elders to discuss the security situation and to allow them to give up insurgents still in the area.

The operation will assist the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in establishing the valley as a new district giving the Afghan people in the area freedom from the insurgency.   

President Hamid Karzai approved the creation of the additional district and hopes the new district will help improve the security of the area and support the reconstruction effort.

Mohammad Iqbal Azizi, Laghman Province governor, held a press conference March 7 announcing the establishment of a new district located in the valley.

ANSF, TF Bastogne continue operations in Kunar


KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and coalition troops from Task Force Bastogne continued operations in the Shigal District March 18 after clearing the village of Lawsin and the surrounding area.

Afghan leaders, coalition forces look forward

PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Leaders from across eastern Afghanistan attended a security conference March 9 at Forward Operating Base Thunder, the home of the Afghan Army’s 203rd Thunder Corps.