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Institute of Land Warfare >> Dispatches from the Front >> Troop Commander Delivers Aid, Mentorship in Naray Email this... Email    Print this Print

Troop Commander Delivers Aid, Mentorship in Naray

Story and photo by Pfc. Jaime D. Mial

Task Force Spartan Public Affairs

“Before the Coalition came (to Afghanistan) there were a lot of problems. The ladies could not go to the bazaar, you must grow a beard. Now we have hope in our country,” said Wazer Gul, the administrative officer for the Naray District of Kunar Province.

Staff Sgt. Jason Guthrie (left, front) and Capt. Todd Polk eat lunch with district sub-governor Hagi Tulzaman Zhaziaban and several of his staff members after a meeting April 25.

That hope comes thanks, in part, to Capt. Todd Polk, commander of Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron 71st Cavalry Regiment. Throughout his time in northeastern Afghanistan, Polk has worked with the district sub-governor, Hagi Tulzaman Zhaziaban, to stabilize the local government, set up programs to help the people, and strengthen the local police force.

“Our biggest goal is to coach, teach and mentor,” said Polk, who has regular visits with Zhaziaban and members of his team.

Polk was greeted upon his arrival by several Afghan National Policemen, who he has also been working with, when he paid one such visit April 25. After a few moments of discussion about tactical matters, Polk ascended the rickety staircase to Zhaziaban’s office.

Inside, he was eagerly greeted by a cheerful Zhaziaban and several other men who immediately shook his hand and offered him a teacup full of Pepsi. Once seated on the large cushions lining the room, the discussion bounced from plans for a new district center to humanitarian assistance distribution to plans for a new phone center in the area. Plans are even in the works to do a census.

“We need a lot of construction. Our schools and other facilities need to be built up,” said Gul. “Right now we are just trying to build the basics that stimulate the economy,” said Polk. The democracy in Afghanistan is very new, said Polk. “It is important to bring objectivity to a place that has been very subjective.” Polk described the process he used to bring aid to the people of Naray and reinforce government bonds with the people.

“We bring (humanitarian assistance) supplies to Zhaziaban, and he distributes it to the people,” Polk said. “He keeps logs of who he gives what and then we review it together.”

It’s good for the people to start relying on their own government for those types of things, Polk added.
Polk also makes a point of working with the local ANP to help build security in the area. “We get together and talk about what they do. We discuss what has been working and what hasn’t,” he said.

At the end of the meeting Polk reiterated things that needed to be accomplished before their next meeting and the group ate lunch before Polk and his team moved on to their next mission.

“I think the future is looking up for this country,” said Polk.