Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team - Public Affairs
NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. servicemembers from the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team traveled to Forward Operating Base Blessing in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province to rebuild a connection with local Afghans.
“We were sent here to FOB Blessing to represent the central valley of Waygul and Wama,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. John McGlocklin, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Nuristan civil affairs team at FOB Blessing. “Because the people here don’t always have the means to travel all the way to FOB Kalagush, they have easy accessibility to the PRT with us here.”
The civil affairs team has been at FOB Blessing since mid-July and is attempting to develop relations with the community by giving them the means to initiate small self-help projects, such as water canals and storage tanks for clean water and better overall sanitation conditions, according to U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Burgess, Nuristan PRT civil affairs specialist.
So far, 23 projects valued at more than $70,000 have been distributed throughout various villages across the Waygul and Wama area. PRT members believe a major reason Afghans join with the Taliban is the severe lack of money. Employing Afghans with self help projects gives them economic development and teaches them alternative avenues to make money other than farming.
“There are five major valleys in the northern portion of the Task Force Lethal Area of Operation, and the Afghanistan PRTs impact two of them…Kunar and Nuristan. The civil affairs team here interacts with the people much more and communicates with the sub-governor almost weekly. That’s very important,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Brian Pearl, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Division commander at FOB Blessing. “They literally tie government and development together, from village, to district, to overall provincial level.”
When the local people saw Coalition Forces wanting to help, a spark ignited in them and they were more welcoming. Governors, village elders and shura leaders meet with the team often to discuss the progress of current village projects and the plans for future development in the area.
“We are the only ones here in this area,” McGlocklin said. “We need to remain accessible to the Nuristanis so they can receive the help they need from us.”
“The biggest thing is the interaction with village elders and local government in the Waygul and Wama valley,” Pearl said. “Once you empower the government, then you can reestablish relationship with the people. Without the PRT, the government and the community would be separate.”
NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Dustin Brzezniak, left, from Matawan, N.J., and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. John McGlocklin from San Antonio, Texas, with the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team, sit with Muhammad Osman, the sub-governor of the Waygul District of eastern Afghanistan’s Nuristan province, and shura members during a meeting to discuss ongoing projects in the area, on Forward Operating Base Blessing, Nov. 18. Osman hires local Afghans to work on PRT-funded projects, and meets with the civil affairs team twice a week to request additional supplies for self-help projects. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley Hawkins)
091120-F-7498H-025: NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A child from the Waygul District of eastern Afghanistan’s Nuristan province load bags of cement provided by the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team into a truck on Forward Operating Base Blessing, Nov. 20. Muhammad Osman, the sub-governor of the district, met with the civil affairs team two days prior to request additional supplies for self-help projects. Once he has a signed self-help project request form from the villagers, the form is sent to the PRT commander for funding and support. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley Hawkins)