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Cooperation Key to Success Along Afghan Border

By Army Sgt. Matthew C. Moeller
Special to American Forces Press Service

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, July 13, 2009 – Since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, Pakistan and Afghanistan not only have shared a border, but also a common threat.

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U.S. Army Capt. Michael Harrison, speaks with Pakistani army Capt. Fahad at Nawa Pass in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, July 5, 2009. Pakistani, Afghan and U.S. military members met to discuss continued cooperation and information sharing along the mountainous pass. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Moeller

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Using early breakdowns in communication along that border to their advantage, insurgents often would attack in one country, only to flee into the other with little or no resistance.

To prevent this, both countries, along with members of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, established regular border meetings, such as one held at Nawa Pass here July 5.

Taking place on the Afghan side of the border, the high mountain pass separating Afghanistan’s Kunar province and Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas is far removed from the metropolitan capitals of Islamabad and Kabul. Here, the three parties sit across from each other outside, talking of family, shared culture and, most importantly, security.

“We are fighting the same enemy,” said Pakistani army Capt. Fahad. “They attack on one side and flee to the other.”

“That’s why we need to work together to stop them.” said U.S. Army Capt. Michael Harrison, commander of 10th Mountain Division’s A Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment.

Separated by only a waist-high barbed wire fence, the area around the Nawa Pass historically was a safe haven for insurgents and smugglers. The area now serves as a crucial example of how cooperation among the three parties can lead to success along the border.

“The place is really a measuring stick of the success of what can happen when you have each side sharing security, sharing intelligence, and really understanding what the other is doing,” Harrison said.

The success in security has allowed success in development, with the completion of a road improvement project funded by the province’s provincial reconstruction team. The project has opened the remote region to the rest of the province, Harrison said.

“The ability to do road construction is a direct result of that increased security,” he noted.

Although Harrison admits not every border pass has reached the same level of cooperation as the two checkpoints along the Nawa Pass, he said there has been progress.

“Overall they’ve been very receptive,” he said. “We’ve seen a great improvement over the past six months we’ve been here, and if we continue to have leaders like we do in the Nawa Pass, we’ll continue to improve.”

(Army Sgt. Matthew C. Moeller serves in the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePakistani military, Afghan border police and U.S. soldiers sit side by side to discuss continued communication and security along the Nawa Pass, separating Afghanistan’s Kunar province and Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas, during a border meeting at the high mountain pass July 5, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Moeller  
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