From the event

26 Feb 2007

PR# 2007-130

Wall completion signifies progress in Northern Laghman

KABUL, Afghanistan — It may only be a 150-meter flood protection wall outside Dumlam Village in Laghman Province, but its completion 21 Feb. signified a turning point in an area once gripped by extremists.

Since the establishment of Security Base Najil last December, many villagers have turned their backs on extremists, enabling more reconstruction in northern Alishang District. The permanent presence of Afghan National Army and ISAF troops has improved security in the area and given local people new hope in the government.

“Just three months ago we were getting attacked just about every time we came up here,” said Lt. Col. Brad Bredenkamp, Mehtar Lam Provincial Reconstruction Team commander. “Laghman Governor Golab Mangal made a commitment with [ISAF] forces to set up Security Base Najil and tackle the security issues here.”

As this is the first time ANA forces have been permanently assigned in the area, their presence has significantly reduced insurgent activity from the nearby Mayl and Gonapal Valleys, said Bredenkamp.

“Thankfully many of the people in this area have cooperated fully with the government,” Bredenkamp said. “They are eradicating poppy and driving away enemy fighters because they want the reconstruction that you see happening now.”

In addition to the Dumlam wall — which will protect farmers’ land and fields — other projects will soon come to fruition in Alishang. This year a road going into the Mayl Valley will become a reality. “The road will make it more passable for vehicles so that the government can move freely to meet with local people,” Bredenkamp said. “It will also make it easier for villagers to take their products to markets.”

Mohammad Qasim is the Alishang district administrator, and he said he is very happy about the progress in his area. “Twenty eight years of war have destroyed our economy, our culture… everything,” he said. “Thanks to the PRT we’re getting this wall — something that’s very important for local agriculture. I hope some day we will have a stronger, more independent Afghanistan.”

Alishang elder Asadulla Khan expressed his gratitude for the projects that are helping improve the northern part of the district. “I’m very happy to see several projects going on in this small area,” said Khan. “I hope this continues so we can create more jobs for local people.”

Projects will continue with a proposal for a bridge between the Mayl and Gonapal, thus enabling the government and authorities to reach out to Gonapal and address the needs of the local population, said Bredenkamp.

Bredenkamp credited the boost in reconstruction to active leadership from district officials. The district leaders were instrumental in getting local people to cooperate with the government and maintain security. “Continue to spread the word up and down the valley for people to work with the government and the coalition,” he told them. “Because we are here to help.”

Later that day the district administrator and the PRT also broke ground on a project to refurbish an abandoned clinic in nearby Qal-i-najil.

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