Afghan Valley to Receive $2.4 Million for Reconstruction
American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Aug. 16, 2005 Afghanistan's Baghran Valley, once home to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, will receive more than $2 million in U.S. reconstruction funds over the next six months.
Gov. Assa Dullah Khalid of Afghanistan's Kandahar province; U.S. Army Lt. Col. Bert Ges, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery; and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robbi Ball, commander of the Kandahar provincial reconstruction team, cut the ribbon on a bridge built near the Baghran Valley. The bridge, which runs over the Tarnak River, serves as an important link to the village and its neighbors. It has already become a vital commercial artery for the people on both sides to transport goods and services, as well as providing an efficient route for medical patients and emergency vehicles. Army photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The area will receive $2.4 million in an effort to bring peace, prosperity and security to the region once known as a bastion of Taliban ideology. Projects include reconstruction of the area's most prominent Mosque, a new high school, road repair, and equipping the local police force with motorcycles.
Officials announced the projects during a recent groundbreaking ceremony.
"The people of this valley have asked for our help, and we're delivering," provincial reconstruction team commander U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jim Hogberg said during the ceremony.
About 30 members of his reconstruction team accompanied Hogberg. He also congratulated the Afghan people for supporting their own peaceful future and reminded them of the importance of voting in upcoming elections.
The provincial governor's chief of staff and numerous dignitaries from throughout the province attended the ceremony. Afghan and U.S. officials distributed newspapers and free radios to the crowd.
As the provisional reconstruction team announced the projects, former Taliban leader Rais Bagharni, a participant in the government of Afghanistan's reconciliation program, announced his intent to run in September's parliamentary elections.
"Reconstruction is my jihad," Bagharni said, adding that he was committed to helping the PRTs with reconstruction efforts in the area.
One of the area's most visible projects is paving a 700-meter road through the town's center, which will give the people living in the area easier access to the shopping district.
In another nearby ceremony recently, Kandahar province Gov. Assa Dullah Khalid; U.S. Army Lt. Col. Bert Ges, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment; and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robbie Ball, commander of the Kandahar provincial reconstruction team, cut the ribbon on a bridge spanning the Tarnak River. The bridge cost nearly $300,000 and took almost two years to complete. The bridge links the Baghran Valley with nearby major centers of commerce, which will improve the overall economy of the area.
The projects, which will use contracted Afghan construction firms, are expected to take anywhere from three to six months to complete, officials said.
(From a Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news release.)