KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Kunar provincial governor paired with the commander of 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division visited three western Kunar districts in Task Force Lethal Warrior’s area of operations, Jan. 4 through 5.
Fazlullah Wahidi, provincial governor, and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Brian Pearl, Task Force Lethal Warrior commander, spent two days touring Chapa Dara, Manogai and Watapur districts to meet with district leaders and village elders.
The governor and his provincial chief of police, Brig. Gen. Hussain Khallullah, visited with the district sub-governors and line directors, Afghan National Police officers, and village elders and shura members in an effort to better connect the provincial government with the district governments.
Wahidi addressed a few key issues during the visit including security, reconciliation and budgets.
“The trip was part of my plan to meet the elders and shuras for peace and development,” Wahidi said. “We want to bring people closer to the government, and to also talk to them about their security in their area.”
Wahidi said in each of the districts, the village elders were eager to talk about the reconciliation process.
“The reconciliation process was just announced, and they showed their willingness to talk to their unhappy brothers to have them come down from the mountains,” he said. “But they ask for activities to keep them busy by providing jobs for them.”
The governor said security is a concern for the provincial government and he is working with the Afghan National Security Forces to secure the population in the districts.
“We’ll increase the police numbers in the districts to keep them secure,” Wahidi said. “Sometimes people don’t come to the government because they think the government’s position isn’t very strong in the districts.”
Wahidi said in addition to bringing more ANP to the districts, the government was repositioning the Afghan National Army units in the province to improve the security and repel insurgents.
Pearl told shura participants from each of the districts that security was improving, but he needed the help of the elders to continue the progress.
“My troops are young, but they have good hearts and I hope they are communicating with you elders when coming to the villages,” Pearl said at the Chapa Dara shura. “I instruct them to go to the village elders when they come through the villages to establish a relationship and to talk to them about problems with security and development.”
Pearl praised the elders for their strength and asked them to use it to improve their districts.
“Thank you for supporting our soldiers,” he said. “Since you are the elders and you’re a strong group, I ask that you protect my soldiers as they protect you and your families.”
At the Manogai shura, Pearl used an analogy for security that evoked a hearty hurrah from the group.
“Coalition forces, the government, ANA, ANP and the elders cannot do it alone. We are like five fingers going five separate ways,” he said. “But when we come together we are like a fist and we can do great things.”
Wahidi said the trip was a good opportunity to see the progress being made in the districts since his last trip nearly a year ago.
“I saw a lot of development and it’s very good for the people,” he said. “I saw positive signs. The focus should be on the village people. We should start development from the village because the number of people (there)."
“When we’re talking about poverty and reducing it, we should start from the bottom up,” Wahidi said.
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