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American Forces Press Service

U.S., Coalition Efforts Helping Improve Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2006 Humanitarian efforts continue in Afghanistan as coalition forces helped remove snow from impassable roads and built "hygiene facilities" at a small school. In addition, international diplomats visited a provincial reconstruction team Jan. 21.

U.S. troops from Task Force Sword have stepped in to help clear roads that are nearly impossible because of snow and ice, Combined Forces Command Afghanistan officials said.

"It's a joint effort between the (U.S.) military, Afghan government and contractors hired by the provincial reconstruction teams," Lt. Col. Jud Cook, Task Force Sword deputy commander, said today.

This joint team has successfully cleared roads in Sharona, Orgun-E and various forward operating bases around Afghanistan. Task Force Sword has used equipment from its road construction projects to clear the ice and snow. By next month, the task force also will have 20 sand and salt spreaders attached to 5-ton trucks to help clear the roads.

The snow and ice removal helps accomplish the military mission by allowing trucks to travel to remote locations. It also makes these same roads available to civilian and commercial traffic, Cook said.

In Uruzgan province, Afghan construction workers completed male and female hygiene facilities and a fresh water well at a local boy's school in central Afghanistan over the past week. U.S. forces funded the projects, which cost more than $30,000 and employed eight Afghans for a period of two months. The hygiene facilities were built over existing hot springs, allowing local residents to enjoy hot water in a building where electric water heaters are not available.

"The construction of these facilities not only provided jobs and much needed currency for the local residents, but they also show the Afghan people that coalition and U.S. forces are here to help," said Army Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara, Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesman.

More then 90 construction and renovation projects are currently under way in the Uruzgan province, totaling more than $6 million.

Diplomats from around the world visited the provincial reconstruction team in Panjshir province Jan. 21 to witness reconstruction efforts of Combined Joint Task Force 76 and the newest PRT. Before visiting the Panjshir PRT, CJTF 76 commander Army Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya briefed government officials from 13 nations and the European Union about reconstruction projects.

"The day highlighted how coalition military and civilian agencies, whether coalition or not, can and should provide effective mutual support on the security and humanitarian fronts," Richard Smyth, the task force's political adviser, said.

The first of its kind, the Panjshir PRT is a joint effort between the members of CJTF 76 and the U.S. Embassy. Fletcher Burton, a U.S. State Department civilian, is its commander.

"Today we had a very interesting visit to Bagram Airfield and then to Panjshir to see how the American PRT is doing," Regis Koetschet, French Ambassador to Afghanistan, said. "Two months ago, we had a meeting with (CFCA Commander Army Lieutenant) General Karl Eikenberry, and he talked about this new type of PRT here in Panjshir. This was an excellent opportunity to see how it worked on the ground.

"The visit was a good opportunity to see this new type of integration of military and civilian agencies," Koetschet said. "I'm quite impressed by this new type of PRT."

(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)


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