The Pentagon’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, announced today it will provide training and equipment specific to airborne geophysical exploration to the Afghan Geological Survey. This initiative is part of the U.S. Government’s continuing efforts to help the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan identify and develop its vast deposits of mineral resources in a transparent and responsible fashion.
A key component of the USGS’ new effort is to train Afghan geoscientists in collecting, processing and interpreting high-resolution geophysical data themselves. Utilizing airborne technology is essential to obtaining reliable, detailed information on mineral and rare earth element deposits.
“By working with the Afghan Geological Survey on an airborne geophysical exploration program, we are taking an important step in preparing the Afghan government to conduct their own mineral exploration efforts,” said Emily Scott, director of natural resource development for the Pentagon’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations. “The goal of this training is to enable the Afghan government to give the best information possible to international investors.”
The TFBSO has already worked extensively with USGS to develop an ongoing survey of mineral resources and rare earth elements in Afghanistan, as well as creating an online and central repository for that data in Kabul. The new training is intended to augment and expand these earlier efforts. This earlier work identified at least $1 trillion in mineral resources, fossil fuels, and rare earth elements within Afghanistan, according to Pentagon estimates.
The USGS training includes the following aspects, each one related to the other and critical for proper handling of the airborne geophysical exploration programs necessary for development of mineral resources:
1. Introduction to theory of gravity, magnetic, electrical, and electromagnetic data;
2. Extensive training in use of geophysical data processing and interpretation software;
3. Management of contracts: writing survey contracts to extract the maximum data value and quality for the dollar;
4. Observation of data acquisition: gain appreciation for equipment and aircraft, and develop working relationship with contractor(s); and
5. Collection and processing of geophysical data on the ground, using some of the same airborne measurement equipment purchased for the Afghan Geological Survey by TFBSO. This equipment includes transmitters, magnetometers, gravimeters, and an advanced rover system that will allow the AGS to use GPS technology to accurately locate their data locations.
With this new training and hands-on experience with state-of-the-art equipment provided by the USGS, the Afghan Geological Survey will move closer to fully managing its own natural mineral resources.