Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Afghanistan Progress

My newest adopted [from Soldier's Angels] soldier is stationed in Afghanistan, so I've been keeping a sharper eye on the doings there. Thanks to a commenter on Pebble Pie's site, I found Centcom. [OT: I've been amazed at how much I learn from the comments sections of different blogs! ITM's has a commenter, Bob, who is constantly posting stories I had not heard about!] One of the highlighted stories at Centcom's site has to do with an event that got little or no notice in MSM's coverage: Afghanis go to the polls!

"For three decades everything has come apart and been destroyed by war. No one had the freedom to vote for the President or the National Assembly. So today is the day we vote…it’s a very important day,“ Said Asem explained at a polling site in Parwan yesterday. Mazi Rashidi, another voter from the same area added, “We vote today for candidates to the National Assembly. And when we have problems in the village or the district, these elected representatives will take those problems to the government.”

I knew that the Afghanistan populace was not a highly educated one, such as Iraq boasts, rightfully I might add. What I did not realize is that 70% of its population is illiterate. It's difficult to maintain a democracy if your people can't even read the Constitution. It's also difficult to maintain the troops, if they are illiterate. Our own armed forces are required to have a high school diploma, and our officers are required to have a college education. So what are they doing about it?

"The ANA recently established a Literacy Working Group and Literacy Commission. Headed by members of the Afghan Army’s General Staff, both of these organizations worked closely with the Afghan Ministry of Education to develop a comprehensive literacy strategy. They focused on developing policies and procedures and implementing methods to create long-term, sustainable results. The literacy staff leaders worked together with other Afghan government ministries, non government organizations and Coalition members to develop objectives for the literacy training plan. To get the literacy plan started, the commission hosted the literacy workshop to bring all the people involved in the program together.

During the two-day workshop, Afghan government officials spoke of the necessity of the new program. “Literacy is important for three reasons,” said Col. Aminullah Rahin, the Afghan Ministry of Education’s deputy of political and religious affairs.

“It allows people to gain information about society and their role within that society, it enables them to make changes in society, and finally, it allows for the development of skills within that society.”

That is a really good start, but there's more.

"The Afghan National Army recently graduated 26 engineers from a six-week training course that built upon their engineering skills at Camp Invictia , on the outskirts of Kabul . This was the second graduation of ANA engineers from the course and highlights the ongoing partnership between the International Security Assistance Force and the Office of Security Cooperation-Afghanistan to increase the capabilities of the ANA.

The Multi-National Engineer Group of ISAF’s Kabul Multi-National Brigade conducted the training course which consisted of realistic, hands-on training and timely examinations to ensure course objectives were met. ANA Brig. Gen. Mohammad Amin Wardak, chief of Education for the Ministry of Defense, told the graduates the training was important to the Afghan Army’s success.

“This training is vital to sustaining the ANA,” he said. “Take the skills learned here from our international friends and use them in your daily tasks. "

As Major Dad likes to point out, we are out there doing good! In spite of what the left wants us to believe!