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Civil Affairs Battalion Brings Development, Security to Afghan Provinces

By Navy Lt. Neil Myers
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2008 – Five districts in the southern portion of Afghanistan’s Konar province all differ in quality of governance and development, and they suffer from a lack of security, power and infrastructure. The 451st Civil Affairs Battalion is working to improve the situation in Narang, Nurgul, Sarkani, Khas Konar and Chowkay districts.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Capt. Roman Skaskiw, 451st Civil Affairs Battalion, talks to Mohd Wali, police chief for the Chowkay district of Afghanistan’s Konar province. Skaskiw and Wali met to discuss development and security in the area. Courtesy photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

"The overall security situation is becoming more stable,” said Army Capt. Roman Skaskiw, 451st civil affairs officer. “The reason for the fighting is local animosities influenced by people who feel they are not getting their share of the redevelopment.”

The civil affairs team works with the Afghan government and international humanitarian organizations to rebuild infrastructure and restore stability in areas stricken by war or natural disasters.

The teams also work with representatives from U.S. government agencies such as the State and Agriculture departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The team travels in armored vehicles with heavy weapons to bring development to areas that are still too dangerous for safe travel.

“Development dampens the insurgency, as evidenced in improving the police, the roads connecting the people to the government and the [promising] health care system," Skaskiw said.

The joint civilian and military efforts are key components in winning the hearts and minds of Afghans, buttressing the authority of the national government in Kabul, and providing a central effort in the U.S.-led counterinsurgency campaign, he added.

(Navy Lt. Neil Myers serves with the Konar Provincial Reconstruction Team.)

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