In 2007, the fourteen provinces in Regional Command-East (RC-E) experienced significant growth, with improvements noted in all lines of operation: security, development, and governance. The greatest growth occurred in security, while progress in governance and development had the greatest impact. With the gap between popular expectations and government capacity widening, the information environment has become more critical. Initiatives by sub-national governments and security forces have preserved the population’s support for the national government, while some villages have overtly rejected insurgent influence in favor of peace and prosperity.
a. Security. Since the beginning of 2007, Afghans in Regional Command – East have seen an overall improvement in the security assessment for 5 of the 14 provinces. This improvement is a direct reflection of the increased capability of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Afghan National Army (ANA) units are increasingly leading and planning operations; the population increasingly depends on the police for security, and regional security coordination centers are growing in capability. While enemy activity has increased, their effectiveness has been significantly degraded and overall impact on the daily life of Afghans remains low.
b. Governance. Throughout the year, the Afghanistan government has made many strides to connect with the population. At all levels, one can note examples of success: integration of Provincial Development Plans (PDP) with national priorities, removal of corrupt or ineffective leaders, and an increased capability of sub-national leaders, to name a few. However, Governance is vital to the counter-insurgency fight, and the government has much to achieve before becoming fully functional.
c. Development. Access to basic services continues to grow in the region. The vast majority of the population has access drinking water, basic health care, and access to schools for boys; over half of the population has access to schools for girls. With an expanded road network, traffic and business development along paved roads has increased exponentially. Although a limited power capacity limits industrial development, Afghan First initiatives have increased capacity and added to a projected GDP growth of 8-10%. While international donors still largely drive this growth, more local Afghan contractors have created businesses and compete for and win bids.
Progress in the fourteen provinces of Regional Command - East is undeniable; however, there is still much work to be done. The insurgency will remain viable into the foreseeable future, so attacks will continue. But concurrent progress in governance and development will eventually render the enemy presence inconsequential. Initiatives such as Focused District Development (FDD), the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), and Agriculture Development Teams (ADT) provide opportunities for continued growth in security, governance and development.