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Afghan Election Security, Reconstruction Efforts Continue

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2004 – Coalition and host-nation forces in Afghanistan continue providing security for the country's upcoming elections as the nation's rebuilding goes on, a military spokesman in the Afghan capital of Kabul said at a news conference today.

Army Maj. Scott Nelson, spokesman for Combined Forces Command Afghanistan, said 11 Afghan National Army battalions will be positioned in Nangarhar, Paktika and Herat provinces, as well as Kandahar and Bamian.

The ANA unit deployments are part of the coordinated Election Security Plan that Afghan, International Security Assistance Force and coalition forces have cooperatively prepared, Nelson said.

"The plan also includes the cooperation of the Afghan people, community and tribal leaders," he noted. "The purpose of the plan is to provide a positive atmosphere for voters to participate in the presidential electoral process without interference."

Task Force 2/27 recently completed an operation in southern Paktika province as part of Operation Lightning Resolve, Nelson said. "The operation provided security for the governor and voter registration teams as they visited areas of the province that had previously been under heavy Taliban influence," he explained.

Nelson added that coalition contributions to rebuilding Afghanistan are "extensive and contribute positively to the future success of this democratic Islamic nation."

He cited completion of a project connecting a school to the power grid as one recent success, but made emphasized that rebuilding Afghanistan can't happen overnight. "The damage done by 26 years of civil war cannot be undone by two to three years of reconstruction," he said.

Coalition military civil affairs officials paid the first $10,000 installment on a $100,000 Commanders Early Response Program project to buy 800 sets of riot gear for Afghanistan's Central Reserve Corps and Rapid Action Division, Nelson said. The first 400 sets will arrive the first week of September and will be distributed immediately, he added. The gear, he said, gives the country's interior ministry "a less lethal riot-control capability" for the upcoming elections.

Police technical advisory teams from Combined Joint Task Force 76 are helping to train the Rapid Action Division in riot-control tactics, Nelson said.

At today's news conference, Nelson also cited a recent U.S. Agency for International Development survey conducted by International Republican Institutes, in which 96 percent of the respondents surveyed identified themselves as Afghans and not by ethnic group or tribe. Another 86 percent said their life is better now than it was two years ago, and 90 percent said their life is better now than it was five years ago.

"As you can see, we've come a long way," Nelson said. "But we still have a long way to go. The coalition, however, is ready and willing to do its part in helping to sustain the Afghan government and provide a higher quality of life for all Afghans."

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Combined Forces Command Afghanistan

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