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Afghan Citizens, Army Help Security

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2005 – Better cooperation by Afghan citizens and a more developed Afghan National Army are reasons cited for improved security in Afghanistan, a military spokesman said today.

"Coalition forces continue to be encouraged by continuous signs that security conditions continue to improve throughout Afghanistan," noted Army Maj. Mark McCann during a press conference in Kabul.

He said in the past two weeks local Afghan citizens turned in a significant number of weapons caches to coalition forces. Of 32 weapons caches discovered during that time period, local Afghan citizens and Afghan security forces turned in 11.

"We commend those Afghan citizens who continue to help themselves by assisting Coalition forces make Afghanistan a more secure place," McCann said, "and we hope others will follow their example of courage."

Two caches of note were found in Khost and Ghazni provinces. The find in Khost contained 135 107 mm rockets, 150-200 mortar rounds, fuses and several recoilless rifle rounds. The Ghazni cache contained 614 cases of 14.5 mm rounds, 54 recoilless rifle rounds, 99 82 mm mortar rounds, and 28 107 mm rockets.

"Many of the munitions discovered were serviceable and some will be turned over to the Afghan National Army, while others were destroyed or will be destroyed at a later date," McCann said.

He also noted steps in the continued development of the Afghan National Army that have contributed to the country's improved security situation.

Some 60 ANA officers will graduate from the Command and General Staff College Jan. 25, he McCann pointed out. "The CGSC is a critical part of the military education of the ANA's officer corps," he explained, "ensuring that they are well-trained, professional and capable of leading the soldiers who are the backbone of Afghanistan's national army."

In addition, McCann reported that the Afghan government will open another National Army Volunteer Center Jan. 26 in the Farah province. He also said that the Afghan government is on schedule to open at least one army volunteer center in each of the country's 34 provinces, including two in Kabul.

The volunteer centers will help establish a "government presence" throughout Afghanistan's provinces and provide a "good first impression" for citizens of remote regions, he noted.

"These volunteer centers reassure local citizens that the government is committed to security and peace for all of Afghanistan," McCann said.

In other news, a 10-member team from the Afghan Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization airlifted thousands of doses of vaccine Jan. 23 to help combat an outbreak of whooping cough in the Day Kundi province village of Saretageb.

McCann said the outbreak claimed the lives of 20-25 children in that village. The team carried enough antibiotics for 2,000 people and vaccinations for 2,500 people.

A small coalition quick-reaction force provided security for the joint humanitarian assistance mission.

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