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Cablegate: Prt/Nuristan: Inauguration of Prt Nuristan

VZCZCXRO5763
RR RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #5986/01 3621441
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281441Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5123
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFIUU/COMSOCCENT MACDILL AFB FL
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3494

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 005986

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SA/FO, SA/A, S/CR, SA/PB,
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN
OSD FOR KIMMITT
CENTCOM FOR CG CFC-A, CG CJTF-76, POLAD
RELEASABLE TO NATO/AUST/NZ/ISAF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV EAID MARR AF
SUBJECT: PRT/NURISTAN: INAUGURATION OF PRT NURISTAN

1. (U) SUMMARY: Provincial Reconstruction Team Nuristan was
officially inaugurated at Qala Gush in Western Nuristan on
November 19. The Qala Gush site is the larger of two
temporary PRT sites in Nuristan Province conducting Civil
Affairs activities (the other being near Kamdesh in the
eastern part of the Province). Speaking at the ceremony,
attended by representatives from communities throughout the
region, Ambassador Neumann used the occasion to highlight
past and current U.S. assistance activities benefiting the
province and to underscore the U.S. was committed to Nuristan
province and Afghanistan for the long-term. COMISAF GEN
Richards, CJTF-76 CG MG Freakley, and Task Force Spartan
Commander Col. Nicholson also spoke. END SUMMARY

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2. (U) The PRT for mountainous Nuristan province was
officially inaugurated at a ceremony on November 19 at the
Forward Operating Base located at Qala Gush, near the
Nurgaram district administrative center in western Nuristan.
Against a backdrop of Nuristan's peaks mantled by the
season's first snows and under a blue sky crisscrossed by
contrails from military aircraft, Ambassador Neumann, ISAF
Commanding General Richards, CJTF-76 Commander, Major General
Freakley, and Task Force Spartan Commander Colonel Nicholson
participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony along with
Nuristan Governor Tamim Nuristani. Representatives of the
Afghan and international press covered the event. Officials
from the three districts in western Nuristan and delegations
from communities were also present.

3. (U) In his remarks, COMISAF General Richards cited the
significance of establishing a PRT in the region. He urged
all present to use the winter months to work together in
making plans and preparations for stepped-up activities when
the weather improves in the spring.

4. (U) Ambassador Neumann noted that the inauguration of a
PRT in Nuristan was the culmination of a sustained effort
over several years. Already present in Nuristan Province,
USAID has funded 12 schools and four clinics with a fifth
under construction. USAID funded training for the
presidential and parliamentary elections. Wheat seed and
fertilizer provided by USAID Alternative Livelihood Programs
have been distributed in the province and several road
projects are underway. The Ambassador emphasized the U.S.
commitment to a secure, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan
by working together with the Afghan people. "We intend to be
here for a long time," he concluded.

5. (U) An elder from Pashgar village, Nurgaram district,
offered his community's welcome to the coalition and
international forces in their efforts to rebuild Afghanistan.
He called the roads that are being built in the province by
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the most important
development for the people of Nuristan. With Nuristan
divided into three valleys, these new roads will help
overcome the divisions. He praised Governor Tamim for his
"sacrifices" for the people of Nuristan. They owe him
special thanks, he said. The elder concluded by declaring
that the people of Nuristan stand ready to help the
international community in developing their province.

6. (U) In his remarks, Governor Nuristani noted that he had
discussed the establishment of a PRT in the province with
President Karzai who expressed his support. The Governor
noted that more than $40 million has been allocated by the
U.S. for roads in the province. In addition, a provincial
security center costing 200 million Afghanis ($4 million) is
under construction at the provincial center. He expressed
his appreciation for the other PRT facility that was
operating at Kamdesh in eastern Nuristan.

7. (U) Following the speeches, the principals joined in
cutting a ribbon at the entrance to the base to mark the
official opening of the PRT. Governor Nuristani and the
representatives from local communities then sat together in a
shura where individuals expressed their opinions and concerns

KABUL 00005986 002 OF 002


to the governor. Most speakers complained about the lack of
government services, schools, clinics, roads and security,
and the protracted absences of government officials from
their duty stations. They also lambasted local officials as
corrupt and rapacious, not interested in serving the people,
and only using their offices to enrich themselves. Several
speakers complained to the Governor about his indifference to
the region, noting that he had not previously visited during
his tenure. The Governor, who listened placidly to the
speakers, did not respond to specific criticisms but in
response stressed the need to cooperate, particularly on
improving security. He urged the people to inform government
officials when anti-government individuals and groups were
present in the region.

8. (U) The region surrounding the Qala Gush FOB/PRT is
sparsely populated and, like the rest of the province, has no
population concentration that could be considered larger than
a village. The nearest community to the PRT is Nangarach, a
settlement consisting of a few dozen houses, a health clinic,
the only boy's school operating in the entire province
offering 12 grades, and an eight-grade girls' school. The
PRT lies adjacent to the only road that affords vehicular
access to Nuristan's three western districts: Nurgram, Mandol
and Doab. For Afghans, Qala Gush is known as the site where,
in February 1919, the Afghan ruler, Amir Habibullah, was
assassinated under mysterious conditions while on a
bird-hunting expedition from his winter palace in Jalalabad.

9. (U) PRT Nuristan (West) occupies a purpose-built base at
Qala Gush in Nurgram district near the district
administrative offices. It is the larger of two PRT sites in
the province conducting Civil Affairs and the home to the
Department of State PRT Officer. The military unit of the
PRT at Qala Gush includes Army, Navy and Air Force personnel
from both active duty and the reserves. This same team had
been located at Tarin Kowt until August 1 when the Oruzgan
PRT was turned over the the Dutch. The U.S. forces moved to
Qala Gush and began construction on the base in late
September.

10. (U) The two PRT sites currently in operation in Nuristan
Province were established on a temporary basis until a
sufficient road network could be put in place to allow
unrestricted access to most areas of the province, making a
centrally located PRT possible in the provincial capital of
Parun, which is located hhigh in a remote alpine valley of
central Nuristan. Until the permanent central PRT is
established, PRT Nuristan (West) will be home to the main PRT
staff, while Forward Operating Base (FOB)/PRT Kamdesh (East)
will support a small Civil Affairs Detachment covering
Kamdesh and Barg Matal districts. PRT Kunar located at
Asadabad continues to engage with Nuristanis from Waygal and
Wama districts in central Nuristan.

11. (U) COMMENT: The official launch of PRT Nuristan at
Qala Gush rather than the provincial center of Parun points
to the unique challenges that beset coalition efforts to
support strengthening of security and governance functions
and accelerating development in this geographically divided
province. The move to Parun is not likely to occur any time
soon given the need to first build and secure roads
connecting the Provincial capital to the rest of the
province. While the Qala Gush base itself is temporary, the
Ambassador underscored in his remarks that the U.S. has a
long-term commitment to Nuristan and to Afghanistan as a
whole.
NORLAND

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