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Reconnaissance Mission to Bring ANA to Faryab

By Staff Sgt. Johnny A. Thompson
Special to American Forces Press Service

FARYAB PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Jan. 9, 2004 – The Afghan National Army took a step closer to building its strength with a reconnaissance mission here Jan. 4.

The mission, conducted by the U.S. Recruiting Assistance Team, part of the Office of Military Cooperation - Afghanistan, was an attempt to select a prominent site and secure land to build an ANA volunteer center in the province.

"Today, we are here to bring Afghanistan closer to its desire to be an independent nation," said Lt. Col. David Francavilla, director of the recruiting assistance team.

During the mission, the recruiting team, along with an Afghanistan Ministry of Defense representative and a representative from the British army, met with Enayatullah Enayat, governor of Faryab, and more than 45 elders, dignitaries and local press members to discuss the benefits of the ANA and the impact the volunteer center would have on the province.

"(Afghanistan) fought 23 years in a civil war, fought the Soviets, then fought the Taliban, and as a result it left the country in poor condition," said Francavilla. "But we are here to help. The world has seen the suffering of Afghanistan, and nations from all over want to help. We know that what happens here affects the entire world."

In the three-hour-long visit, the recruiting team explained the benefits Afghan men would gain by joining the ANA. Benefits such as complete medical care, 30 days of paid vacation per year, job skills training transferable to the civilian sector, advanced education opportunities and a pay of 3,600 Afghani ($70) per month were all enticing factors for joining the ANA, said Francavilla. But he added that the most enticing factor for joining is the opportunity to serve.

"The biggest thing a man can do is serve his country," said Francavilla. "When a man serves his country, he knows that he is not only protecting the country today, but also protecting its future."

A volunteer center prototype was displayed during the visit. The recruiting team gave the building's blueprint to local contractors in a construction packet for viewing.

"The impact of the ANA doesn't only benefit this city by the way of service to its country, it benefits the city financially, because we hire a local contractor to build the ANAVC," said Maj. Steven Nixon, deputy director of the recruiting assistance team.

The ANAVC is equipped with a full-service kitchen, three-space office component, a living room, a 25-soldier living quarters, and showers and bathrooms.

Enayat expressed appreciation for what the United States and the world are doing for Afghanistan. "We understand that without security we can do nothing as a country, so the ANA is the only hope for a bright future," he said.

Enayat noted he fully supports the quest to bring the ANA to Faryab, and that the recruiting assistance team has his full support. The governor showed the recruiting team two sites that would be available for the ANAVC.

A meeting is scheduled later in the month to sign a deed for the land acquisition, and at that time a contract conference will be hosted to award the project to a contractor.

Officials estimate the volunteer center will take 70 days to build.

"People will know that the ANA is the future and that America and the world's intent is the same as ours: to make Afghanistan a better place," said Col. Abdullah Jakfer, Faryab ANA recruiting commander, as he spoke about the ANAVC efforts in Faryab.

Along with selecting the two sites, the team purchased radio airtime, in which Jakfer will advertise the ANA for a half hour a day for a month.

Francavilla and Nixon both said the message must be honest, sincere and candid.

"Joining the ANA is a voluntary service, so we have to be honest in our approach," said Nixon as he spoke with Jakfer. "We want (Afghan citizens) to know that they aren't giving up a son to the ANA, they're investing in his future and in Afghanistan's future."

(Army Staff Sgt. Johnny A. Thompson is assigned to the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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