KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Gov. Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, the governor of eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province, visited local leaders in the Naray district to discuss security and development issues, Dec. 10-11.
The trip included meetings with district sub-governor Hajji Gul Zaman, U.S. Army officials, and the district’s Afghan National Security Forces leadership.
U.S. Army Capt. Benjamin W. Woods, of Belding, Mich., a civil affairs officer with the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Destroyer, went into greater detail about the purpose of the visit.
“The provincial governments have been getting a lot of heat and pressure [from president Karzai] to crack down on corruption,” he said.
Woods also said that on all levels of the Afghan government there has been a greater effort to monitor the development of Afghanistan to prevent corruption.
Although corruption is a key concern in Afghanistan right now, another major issue is development, which is something Wahidi addressed in his visit.
“The strategy from the beginning was road construction,” Wahidi said.
This thought was shared by many of the U.S. Soldiers working to facilitate the meeting between Wahidi and the district leadership, including Woods, who said that fixing the road is the main concern.
“Development in the district of Naray is focused more on the population centers we have the ability to affect,” Woods said, referring to areas that are more accepting of International Security Assistance Forces and ANSF.
If money goes to areas of instability, it might slip into the hands of insurgents, he added.
Wahidi also recognized the need to develop the district, and said he is trying to guide the economy of Kunar from an illegal system based on smuggling drugs, weapons and lumber, to a legal economy based on honest business.
To combat illegal trade, Wahidi, and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robert B. Brown, stressed the need to further develop the district’s police force.
“We’ve been putting a lot of effort into the recruitment and training of the national police,” Brown, commander of the 3-61 Cav. Rgt., explained. “Hiring more police brings a lot more tribal involvement into the police force, which we think will help the security environment.”
Woods said Wahidi shared his priorities with local leaders during his visit, and saw areas of the district where the development process has worked.
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