Remote Areas of Afghanistan Receive Coalition Assistance
28 June 2007
Korean, Turkish, New Zealand, U.S. forces offer health care, mentoring
Washington – People living in northeastern Afghanistan are benefiting from coalition efforts to mentor local police, provide extended health care and promote good governance and economic development, officials say.
At a June 28 briefing broadcast to the Pentagon from Afghanistan, Army Colonel Jonathan Ives said the coalition partners, which include South Korea, New Zealand, Turkey and the United States, seek to support and extend the reach of the Afghan government in provinces that include Panjshir, Parvan, Wardak and Bamian.
In some areas, such as Tagab, Ives said, representatives of local villages have voiced concern about the threat from the Taliban, and they do not yet have complete confidence in the protection provided by the local Afghan police. In these situations, the coalition has stepped in to mentor and train the police to enable them to respond better to local security needs, he said.
As coalition mentoring enhances the capabilities of local police and army forces and boosts trust, Ives said, the size of the coalition presence will decline over the next two years.
He also said those under his command are encouraging the village elders to notify the police if they detect Taliban among the local population. Additionally, Ives said, coalition forces are encouraging the elders not to grow the poppies that supply the illegal drug trade and to embrace the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Alternative Livelihoods Program.
He said his forces also are supporting the work of provincial reconstruction teams so they, too, can help extend the Afghan government’s reach into remote areas with respect to education, rule of law, health issues and other concerns. The teams are drawing on $20 million from the commanders’ emergency response program to build bridges, roads, clinics and schools.
Ives pointed to the successful example of the Bamian Boys High School, which originally was slated to serve 500 students, but now educates 1,200 Afghans. The overall number of children in Afghan schools has increased from 1.2 million (30 years ago) to 6 million today, of which 2 million are female, according to the statistics he provided during the briefing.
The colonel was asked if violence against Afghan women is on the upswing since radio station owner and journalist Zakia Zaki was assassinated in June and a prominent female member of parliament from Parvan was attacked after promoting a platform of improved access to education for women. Ives responded that these women were attacked because they were easy targets for extremists and added that women and men are targeted equally.
South Korean Lieutenant Commander Kim Seoung-Ki said his military medics are making “every effort to treat the hearts and minds of the people hurt by the lingering wars” in Afghanistan whether from gunfire or exploding mines.
Kim commands the 924th Medical Support Group in Bagram with a staff of four doctors, three nurses, nine medics and 34 support personnel. Over a five-year period, they have treated 240,000 outpatients.
Another 150 Korean engineers are part of the support effort in Afghanistan that is part of Operation Enduring Freedom, Kim said during an appearance with Ives.
When the coalition forces depart, Ives said they will leave behind “a legacy of caring and commitment.”
A transcript of the remarks by Ives and Kim is available on the Defense Department’s Web site.
For more information, see Rebuilding Afghanistan.
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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