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U.S. Soldiers Bridge Access for Remote Afghans

By Army Spc. Brandon Sandefur
Special to American Forces Press Service

JALALABAD AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Jan. 26, 2009 – U.S. soldiers are building roads to remote areas in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province that are opening doors to a better way of life for local Afghans.

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Afghan security forces, local residents and U.S. soldiers lay planks for a bridge in the Lal Por district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, Jan. 7, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jay Bessey
  

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

Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team are improving accessibility into the province’s Lal Por district by building a bridge and improving three miles of road. Prior to the construction, access was limited to small vehicles and pedestrians, isolating the villages in the district’s Reneh and Parchaw areas.

“Isolation creates a situation that can and will be exploited by enemies of the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said Army Lt. Col. Patrick Daniel, Special Troops Battalion commander. “People who are not reached by the legitimate government will be reached and exploited by the enemies of the government in an insurgency.”

Since the completion of the project, mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles and large cargo trucks now can enter the area, enabling NATO’s International Security Assistance Force to reach out to local people who may not have seen them before.

Daniel further explained how projects like this help establish trust and confidence in the Afghan government and the U.S. forces assisting them.

“The best way we can counter the enemies of Afghanistan in these areas is by assisting the government in creating access and reaching the people of remote areas like Reneh and Parchaw,” he said. “This operation was a definite positive step in that direction.”

Despite terrain and security issues, the project was completed in three days by soldiers from Charlie Troop, 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment.

The troops also helped to widen, smooth and harden stretches of the road between Lal Por village and Reneh while working with Afghan security forces to establish security along the route.

“Because the road has been so restrictive, the government has not been able to provide large-scale projects in the area,” Army Capt. Jay Bessey, officer in charge of the project, said. “As a result of this inability, the people have felt abandoned.

“We wanted to use this project to show them that, at the behest of their sub-governor, we could and would support them,” said he continued. “Hopefully, this project ties them closer to the government and opens the door to increased security through a prolonged [Afghan security forces] presence.”

(Army Spc. Brandon Sandefur serves in the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)

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Related Sites:
U.S. Forces Afghanistan

Click photo for screen-resolution imageLocal Afghans stand by as Army Staff Sgt. Olen Ice lifts a plank to be used for a bridge in the Lal Por district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, Jan. 7, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jay Bessey  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Staff Sgt. Olen Ice operates a Bobcat to widen, smooth and harden stretches of road between Lal Por village and Reneh in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, Jan. 8, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jay Bessey  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy 2nd Lt. Michael Herndon and his squad provide over-watch security for workers below while they construct a bridge and improve a three-mile stretch of road in the Lal Por district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jay Bessey  
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