War on Terrorism

Friday, January 28, 2011

Polish, Texas National Guard forces build relationships in Afghanistan

By 2nd Lt. Laura G. Childs
Texas Army National Guard Ghazni Agribusiness Development Team-IV

KABUL, Afghanistan (1/27/11) - Members of Texas Army National Guard Ghazni Agribusiness Development Team-IV joined Polish Battle Group A to conduct a unified mission in three villages outside Ghazni City on Jan. 17 to 18.

The mission was to perform site assessments and build relationships with the local population in the villages of Qalati, Zargar and Pir Shabaz, close to Forward Operating Base Ghazni.

In each village, local leaders were invited to discuss concerns and grievances with coalition forces, as well as share details and progress of ongoing repair projects previously addressed by the Ghazni ADT.

From prior discussions with the village leaders, Ghazni team was aware of a consistent and well-known problem: a lack of water.

Many areas in Afghanistan, including Ghazni province, have faced years of drought conditions which have significantly reduced the water table.

However, measures can be taken to offer immediate relief.

Director of Public Works Nezamuddin shared how a main drainage system and two culverts in the village of Qalati were crushed by coalition forces’ vehicles on a previous visit to the village in December.

Commander’s Emergency Relief Program funds were used to repair the drainage system and culverts.

“Using bulk CERP funds in this way offers quick solutions to immediate problems, giving villagers increased confidence in their local leaders and coalition forces,” said Army Capt. Wade L. Aubin, CERP funds manager for Ghazni ADT-IV.

This repair will greatly improve water management in the village.

During the assessments conducted during the patrol at Qalati Village, the Ghazni ADT found the supplies had been purchased and work had begun. Village leaders have decided, however, to hold off on project completion until the weather warms in the spring.

On the second day of patrols, the combined units conducted a village assessment of Pir Shabaz, located on the banks of the Ghazni River on the east side of Ghazni City.

Most villagers of Pir Shabaz are farmers who grow radishes, leeks, onions and potatoes, which they sell at the local market or at the bazaar in Ghazni City.

While the water levels are much lower than usual due to the ongoing regional drought, this village is able to access the water in the river to irrigate their crops and trees during the winter.

Despite the low water levels, village resident Jaleed, a farmer who sells his produce in the local market, said his crop output was good and business was steady.

“We demonstrated our willingness to listen to their problems, hear their concerns, and try to find solutions by facilitating their issues through their leaders and governmental officials,” said Army 2nd Lt. Grant Gillaspy of Fort Worth, Texas, Ghazni ADT-IV project manager.

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