“We’re trying to target some enemies and some specific targets,” said Miller. “We've patterns of life on a few different guys (insurgents), and what we’re trying to do is, instead of being terrain focused, we’re trying to focus on them and detain them.” Miller said that he's happy with how things have turned out so far, and applauds the effort of Afghan forces during this op.“This whole area, as we’ve pushed out west, has traditionally been an enemy safe haven; and with us, the ANA, and ANP, we’ve been able to push out west,” said Miller. “We’ve found that we've freedom of maneuver. As we secure areas, the ANA and ANP can come in and set up checkpoints. We plan on putting more checkpoints throughout Nerkh, to keep the bad guys from moving in on the people.”Brig. Gen. Gary Volesky checked on the op, while conducting a battlefield circulation. “The 1st Cav Div just assumed responsibility for RC-East on the 19th of May, so I'm out looking at the great units in RC-East, and seeing the great work that they've done over their rotation,” said Volesky. “Today we came out with Captain Miller in Nerkh to see the great work he has done on disrupting the enemy, and making things better in this district.“Task Force Slugger is doing really well in partnering with their Afghan counterparts,” continued Volesky. “That’s one of the most critical things we can do during this rotation, is to partner and get the capability of the ASF ready to take the lead.” Volesky said that he came away impressed enough with how the mission is going, that he wants to use the op as an example for other TFs. “I’m going back and telling the comm. gen. what a great model we've seen here today,” said Volesky. “It’s clear from the bde. cmdr. all the way down to the squad leader, that this TF is locked on and making a difference every day.”
“This valley needed this school, and the people here are very thankful for it,” said Dara District Gov. Sorab, through an interpreter. “The students used to have to study in rented houses, and some were sitting under trees for school lessons.”“The school will provide 238 boys a place to continue their lessons,” said Perengal School Principal Ahmadi, through an interpreter. “We're thankful for this school, because it has been built with good quality and high standards.” Ahmadi said that he believes there are 3 fundamentals needed to build capacity for education: a good building, good teachers and good equipment. The district gov. asked all the people present to help preserve the school, and ensure the school achieves its potential. “We've given you the school. Now, I would like you to help us maintain the school,” said Sorab. “I would like the school students to work hard, and the dir. of ed. to work on building the capacity to bring good quality teachers here.” During the ceremony, boys from the Taza Mahamad Shaheed H.S. Banner Team sang “Maariff,” which means education. The team sang, “We are people of education; education is our job. It doesn’t matter if we are male or female, but we're responsible for getting knowledge. We're proud of getting an education,” relayed through an interpreter. The PRT cmdr. stressed the importance of working together and working through the govt. “The PRT works with the people through the govt to identify projects, and we'll continue to do that until we leave,” said Blevins. “Shana ba shana, dast ba dast,” translated to mean shoulder-to-shoulder, hand-in-hand. The dep. gov.reflected on the importance of what has been put in the hands of the youth. “The holy Quran says that learning is obligatory for every individual, man or woman, because if you're uneducated, you're blind and living in darkness,” said Kabiri. “When Allah gives someone education, it means he has all the world in his hand.”
Naeemi cited the security in Jaji Maidan as the best in the prov. The security and stability of the govt in the district is so good, in fact, that it was declared a peace district last Dec. The governor began his visit at the district’s medical clinic where he, with help from the Khowst PRT, donated 6 large boxes of much-needed medical supplies.He spoke with doctors about potential future projects, including a proposed maternity clinic, and other female medical service centers. From the medical clinic the gov. walked to the area where the new schools will be built, stopping to talk to locals and children along the way. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” he asked the children. Doctors and teachers were popular answers; ones which, the gov. reminded the children, require much education. “Promise me your children will use these schools,” Naeemi said to the crowd. After a brief lunch with the ANP following the shura, Naeemi concluded his trip to Jaji Maidan by making a surprise guest appearance on Khowst TV’s quiz game show. The show, which is hosted by an energetic Afghan teen, and taped in a nearby school, pitts Jaji Maidan students against each other on Afghan history, govt policies, and Islam. “This is the future of Afghanistan,” Naeemi said, handing out backpacks to the winning students.
The gov. met with several of his line directors, specifically the chancellor and vice chancellor of SZU, and the directors of the Depts of Ed, and DAIL. Naeemi was joined by Col. Chris Toner, cmdr. of the 3rd BCT, 1st ID, TF Duke."The progress that has been made here to rebuild the agricultural knowledge-base for current and future farmers over the past several years is impressive," said Toner, reflecting on his own experience as a bn. cmdr. in nearby Paktika Prov., 2006-2007. "What our ADTs and this university have done with this forward-looking partnership has been phenomenal, and provides real hope for the agricultural future of the people in this area."Lt. Col. Jeff Webb, the ADT’s agricultural officer-in-charge, said that Afghan farming challenges include the quality of soil, irrigation, storage, distribution and composting. To overcome these challenges, several FFA initiatives have been developed, including training on greenhouses, poultry care, solar dehydrators, compost pits and drip irrigation kits."More importantly," said Webb, "an extensive mentorship program has been developed, that will facilitate the passage of knowledge between teachers and students." Webb said that he hopes all those initiatives will lead to something that endures after the 3-19th finishes their 1-year deployment in Aug. “We’re talking about increasing agricultural capacity and governance here in Khowst,” he said. “We’re confident the faculty at Shaikh Zayed will do everything they can to harness our country’s greatest asset, our students,” said Naeemi.
Addressing about 50 students, Tawab stressed how important they are as the next generation of Afghanistan. “Afghanistan’s future is in your hands,” said Tawab. “It’s your responsibility to serve your country and build a better future.”
The learning center consists of a library, an auditorium and a computer lab equipped with 12 computers, 3 printers and a scanner. The facility is an addition to the Habib Rahman Secondary School, to provide additional technical education for the students attending Habib Rahman and other nearby schools.During the PRT’s tour of the school, Jim Morris said that he was pleased with what he saw. “Today I learned a lot about how this system works, and how the school has established great connections with the officials who work education here in Nijrab and the provincial capital. I was very impressed to see a full staff, students in class and educational materials in supply. It’s clear that this system is working very well,” said Morris.
“Based on what I’ve seen here in Nijrab — strong security conditions; many newly constructed schools and a successful market district — I believe this is a very successful part of Afghanistan,” said Morris. “Hopefully this learning center builds upon that success, and benefits all of Kapisa.”
“We keep pushing to have this event, because once the kids are here, they see that we're not the enemy; that we’re real people, and that they can have fun with us,” said Singer. As the day came to an end, the worn-out faces of both service members and children indicated that the day’s activities were drawing to a close, but no one really wanted to leave. “I was tired,” Sanders said. “I hope when I go the next time I'll see Mohama again. I hope I can pick the same kid next time. Hopefully some of the same kids come back again.”