By Army Sgt. Charles Brice
Special to American Forces Press Service
Jan. 5, 2009 - A unit of 1st Infantry Division soldiers is teaming up with Afghan National Police to bring security to a key area of eastern Afghanistan by reaching out to residents and coordinating with military and government leaders about their needs. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team soldiers of Alpha Company, Special Troops Battalion, and the Afghan National Police are boosting security and providing supplies for the local Afghans of Khogyani and Shirazad districts in Nangarhar province, largely by coordinating meetings known as "key leader engagements."
"We conduct these visits with the leadership to make sure they are taken care of on supplies and issues," Army Sgt. 1st Class Albert Huggins, A Company's 1st Platoon leader, said. "We have to make frequent trips out to the locations to make contact with our allies in the area."
Nangarhar borders Pakistan, and has been a hotbed of insurgency. The improved security measures come at an important time, officials said, as Afghans prepare for national elections later this year. Keeping residents safe as they register to vote was the topic of a recent key leader meeting in the district's Memlah Gardens.
"There are no problems at the voter registration booths," an Afghan National Police captain for Shirazad district said. We have very good security in protecting the locals while they register."
ANP leaders also talked about supplies needed to maintain jobs during the winter and plan for the spring. Similar topics carried over into a subsequent key leader meeting at the Shirazad District Center.
"Things are OK over here with the district center," said Abdul Haq, sub-governor of Shirazad district. "Taliban comes from Pakistan during the spring time and attacks the local villages. Now that the mountains have snowed over, the attacks are down to a minimum."
The newly constructed walls of the district center play a small role in the security of the area, which has improved significantly in the past few months.
"The locals of the area are much happier, because of the security boost," Haq said. "Along with the help of the Americans, our forces in the area have improved on their actions."
As the relationship between the two forces builds, people in the area are beginning to see progress.
"We are here to support the [police] in the Shirazad district in order to make things better for the people," Huggins said. "Safety, security and the welfare of the people are our main concern."
(Army Sgt. Charles Brice serves in the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)