Cablegate: Corrected Copy - Afghanistan: Vignettes From the Field


DE RUEHBUL #3109/01 2790458
P 060458Z OCT 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) KABUL 2939, (B) Kabul 2996, (C) Kabul 3057

1. (SBU) Begin Summary. U.S. civilians in the field continue to
work closely with the Afghan Government and their military
colleagues to support governance, economic development, and
security. New structures and strategies have been integral to
placing our people in key positions in the field where they can work
through Afghan government structures in close collaboration with
coalition military partners, consistent with the Integrated
Civilian-Military Campaign Plan for Support to Afghanistan. This
cable includes a number of vignettes. A key focus of civilian
efforts has been to support the agricultural sector, Afghanistan's
leading source of revenue (see Ref A). Many civilians, particularly
in the South, have been at the front lines to bring governance and
basic services to communities immediately following military
operations. Additionally, programs to develop capacity to improve
governance and the rule of law are part of the daily activities of
most officers in the field, while our development officers are
working on a wide-range of beneficial activities. Continued
progress on these and other efforts, and on civilian increase, will
require additional resources and support from Washington, including
for security, mobility and "life support" (Refs B and C). End

Creating Structures for Enhanced Civilian Effort
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (U) The creation of Senior Civilian Representative (SCR)
positions in the East and South in July 2009 has been essential to
bringing increased management, direction, and oversight to civilian
officers working in the field and has dramatically strengthened the
civil-military unity of effort. Since the SCR is the U.S. civilian
counterpart to the military commander in the Regional Command (RC)
and coordinates the work of all U.S. civilian personnel in his or
her region, these officers are able to ensure civilian and military
capabilities work together to advance our strategic goals. Similar
positions are being created in the North and West to enhance the
unity of effort in those regions (septel).

3. (U) An additional area of enhanced unity of effort has been
tested in the East at the brigade level through the creation of a
"Board of Directors" approach. In that case, the Defense, State,
USAID, and USDA lead representatives each serve on the Board and
coordinate all activities under his/her assigned line of operation
(e.g., governance for State) across the brigade's entire area of
responsibility (AOR). Under this "hub and spoke" model, one
civilian supports and directs the efforts of company commanders,
military civil affairs teams, Agricultural Development Teams (ADTs),
and others on governance work in multiple districts throughout the
AOR. The State officer is also a source of information for those in
her/his chain as s/he provides reach back to the PRT, the Brigade,
the regional platform, and ultimately the Embassy.

4. (U) Civilian lash-up at ISAF headquarters is also key to
advancing civil-military integration. For example, State and USAID
officers have worked directly with ISAF Headquarters in developing
ISAF's operational planning and orders, providing vital civilian
input on how to make rapid gains in governance and development.
Integrated civilian-military working groups at the Embassy provide
real-time guidance to teams in the field on issues from
infrastructure to border management. This kind of civil-military
collaboration at all levels of the military structure has made a
difference. A Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) Civil Affairs
Officer told Ambassador Eikenberry that the MEB depends on civilian
personnel for their expertise, skills (e.g., governance and
agriculture), and the civilian perspective essential for effective
counter-insurgency efforts, noting that a conversation between an
Afghan civilian and a U.S. civilian is qualitatively different than
with a U.S. soldier.

Augmenting the Afghan Agricultural Sector

5. (U) The agricultural sector has been a key area of focus for U.S.
civilians. From infrastructure, to capacity building, to training,
the work has helped augment Afghan capacity. State and USAID
representatives, working with local officials in Helmand, assisted
with the construction of Bost civilian airfield. Completion of the
airfield in the center of one of Afghanistan's key agricultural
regions has resulted in the return of local passenger air service to
and from Helmand, as well as a commercial air service hub for the
shipment of local agricultural produce. The agricultural voucher
and cash for work program is having good positive impacts in the
same province (Ref A). In nearby Zabul province, the USDA
representative created an extension agent training program for
agricultural workers from Zabul's remote districts so that thousands
of subsistence farmers would have access to improved seeds and
agriculture techniques.

6. (U) In the northeastern province of Nuristan, the USDA
representative worked with UN and local experts to train
district-level government officials and community representatives
from across the province in agricultural, forestry, and natural
resource management techniques. In RC- East's Kapisa province,
State, USAID, and USDA officers working with U.S. military were
instrumental in facilitating formation of a pomegranate cooperative
in the critical district of Tagab. As a result of this promising
initiative, pomegranate sales could quadruple from $800,000 to over
$5.6 million. In Kunar to the North, USDA representative supports
farmer workshops that are assisting 260 farmers in nine districts
this year on orchard management, crop production, composting, forest
management, and livestock management.

On the Front Lines: Working in Conflicted Areas
--------------------------------------------- -

7. (U) Often, State, USAID, and USDA officers are called upon to
work in districts just days after military operations have secured
an area. A Marine Expeditionary Brigade commander in the southern
province of Helmand's Nawa district told Ambassador Eikenberry that
civilians were essential to the mission, and that a small number
could make a huge difference. A few USAID personnel armed with the
right expertise and flexible, fast dispersing programs were
invaluable, he said. USAID and State officers in Helmand Province
worked closely with the Marines and the UK to develop planning for
governance immediately following Marine operations in the districts
of Nawa and Khaneshin, and were instrumental in helping the Afghan
government (GIRoA) reestablish district governance and basic
services following the operations. For example, just 48 hours after
U.S. Marines had cleared Khaneshin, a USAID rapid response team
arrived to begin stabilization efforts. In Farah Province in
southwestern Afghanistan, State, USAID, and USDA officers worked in
conjunction with the Marines to help local government officials
establish basic services as part of the clear-and-hold phase in
Golistan and Baqwa districts.

8. (U) In the West in Herat Province's problematic Guzara district,
the USAID representative and locally hired deputy field officer are
facilitating a joint U.S. Special Forces - Herat Health Department
Medical Combat Assistance Patrol (MEDCAP) and potentially a Basic
Health Center. The State representative, working with the PRT
Commander in the eastern province of Paktya, accompanied Paktya's
Deputy Governor Mangal to a shura meeting in the Chamkani district
to help resolve a two-year conflict that has re-emerged on the
Paktya/Pakistan Border between the Shi'a Turi tribe and the Sunni
Bushara tribe. Joined by UNAMA and UNHCR at the shura, the
delegation was successful in helping stabilize the fragile situation
through direct interaction with local leadership.

Advancing Governance and Developing Afghan Capacity
--------------------------------------------- -----

9. (U) Civilians in the field daily interact with and assist the
development of provincial and district governance. A brigade
commander in Parwan, adjacent to Kabul, informed Ambassador
Eikenberry in September that State Department officers are critical
to the success of the brigade's work with the local government.
Foreign Service Officers have training and experience not available
to soldiers, he said. The work of our officers can take many forms.
For example, the State representative at the brigade level in Logar
Province in eastern Afghanistan notes joint civilian and military
engagements have fostered security, governance, development, and
communications, including helping to establish the pilot Afghan
Public Protection Program (AP3), which established a local guardian
force under the direction of the Wardak ANP Chief and the Ministry
of Interior and to revitalize the provincial development councils,
which are intended to decide on priority projects. In the remote
eastern province of Nuristan, the State officer recently kicked off
a "model district" program, which transfers to Afghan officials
responsibility for planning, prioritizing, and budgeting for
Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP)-funded projects in
their districts.

10. (U) Capacity building is a key element of the work of civilians
in the field. In the northeastern province of Kunar, USAID and
State representatives have worked with the military to train
students via the Kunar Construction Company. This program teaches
fighting age males marketable job skills such as electrical wiring,
plumbing, rebar bending, woodworking, painting, and masonry. A ROL
coordinator in the East is working with military partners to
facilitate Huqoq legal training, which will train members of the
Huqoq courts (a civil law mediation and arbitration system headed by
the Ministry of Justice that relies on some elements of the local
informal justice system) in order to enhance the Huqoq courts'
ability to serve as dispute-resolving mechanisms and to develop
public awareness of legal rights and the GIRoA role. In the South's
Helmand Province, the Rule of Law Coordinator has been working with
the PRT, Marines, and UK Military to enhance GIRoA capacity to
investigate and prosecute insurgent violence. In the northern
province of Kunduz, the State PRT Officer works closely with U.S.
Police Mentor Teams to design and implement a community-oriented
policing strategy focused on getting ANP into the community and
building trust and cooperation with the population. In Mazar-e
Sharif, in northern Balkh Province, USAID and State officers worked
with the Embassy to help the Islamic Investment Finance Corporation
(IIFC) establish a loan system that so far has provided some 31,000
Shariat-compliant loans to deserving applicants, amounting to about
$20 million. This program touches many modest families and involves
local communities including women in credit unions previously

Advancing Women's Issues

11. (U) Advancing opportunities and protections for women also has
been a key focus of efforts in Afghanistan's provinces. In Kunar,
USDA and USAID representatives coordinated with Afghan Conservation
Corps to hold training sessions for women on home poultry
production. In the northern province of Kunduz as well as in
Badghis to the west, State and USAID PRT Officers work with a
U.S.-based NGO to secure funding to build a shelter for abused
women, a project which will significantly improve the situation of
women suffering from domestic violence.


12. (SBU) As illustrated by these vignettes, U.S. civilians and
military in the field, working closely with Afghan and coalition
counterparts, are advancing U.S. policy in Afghanistan despite
formidable challenges. Continued progress on governance, economic
development and security efforts, as well as our civilian increase
in the field, will depend in large part on additional resources and
continued support from Washington, including for security, mobility,
housing and other life support in the field (details provided in
Refs B and C). We will provide regular updates on progress and


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