ADT 5: Afghan government working for its people

Story and photos by Spc. Matthew Thomason, ADT 5

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Col. Bob Hayter (center) and Maj. James Hatfield, of Kentucky’s Agribusiness Development Team 5 meet with farmers and Afghan government officials in the Zharay District, Jan. 23, 2013. The meeting brought roughly 200 farmers together to discuss potential improvements in farming in the area. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Spc. Matthew Thomason)

ZHARAY DISTRICT, Afghanistan — Darkness enveloped the landscape as soldiers from Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team 5 began strategically placing their vehicles and personnel at the Zharay District Education Center on January 23, 2013. They were there to provide security, oversight and facilitation for the government shura.  The shura would address multiple issues such as irrigation, pest control and livestock management that local farmers were dealing with and attempt to help these farmers resolve their agricultural problems.

A shura is an Islamic process of decision making through assembly and deliberation. It comes from the Arabic word for consultation.

“This shura linked over 200 local farmers with GIRoA (Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) officials at both the district and provincial level,” said Tech Sgt. Nathan Steele. “By implementing surveys on 15 different topics, we are able to better understand what problems these farmers face.”

ADT 5 has been diligently working alongside officials of the GIRoA to improve the resources and education of the farmers within Zharay District and their ability to provide sustainment for both themselves and the local economy.

“ADT 5 has the ability to indirectly reduce kinetic activity on the battlefield by helping to improve the farmer’s ability to provide food for their families and generate income,” said Steele. “The less money the farmers have to take from the Taliban produces one less IED or enemy fighter to target ISAF or GIRoA forces.”

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Local farmers meet with officials of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the Zharay District, Jan. 23, 2013 to discuss the problems the farmers face in the area. Soldiers of Kentucky’s Agribusiness Development Team 5 assisted in the council and provided security to the gathering. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Spc. Matthew Thomason)

“This is the first shura of its kind in this area and outside the wire, coordinating security between the Afghan National Army, Afghan Uniformed Police and ISAF personnel that received no interference by opposing forces. This really speaks volumes to the will of the Afghan people and the success of ISAF forces in a region once known as the birthplace of the Taliban,” he explained.

The undisputed success of this shura truly speaks to the dedication of both the ISAF and GIRoA forces who are both working toward a common goal of success for the nation and people of Afghanistan.

Steele said there are broader impacts of the shura’s success, calling it a show of competency in the local government.  He believes that because of actions such as this, the people of Afghanistan can see that their government is working for them.

“This discredits the Taliban and insurgency and helps to ensure the confidence of the people is in their own government, he said.  “In my opinion, we (ISAF and GIRoA forces) didn’t just aide local farmers today, we helped to ensure the success of Afghanistan and that is a win in my book.”

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