U.S. Supports Afghanistan’s Sub-National Governance Plan

Posted by Dereck Hogan
February 17, 2010
Afghan Men Hold Shura in Helmand Province

About the Author: Dereck Hogan serves in the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP). He previously served on Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Uruzgan and Kunar, Afghanistan.

As Ambassador Holbrooke's Senior Advisor for Governance and Civilian-Military Coordination, I make it a point to travel frequently to Afghanistan to meet with senior Afghan and international officials in Kabul and the field to discuss the implementation of our sub-national governance assistance strategy. I just returned from a very productive and encouraging one-week trip in Afghanistan.

Key security and service delivery ministries are working on a plan with U.S. Embassy Kabul and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters to dramatically improve security, restore government control and improve service delivery in 80 critical districts over the next 18 months to reverse the momentum of the Taliban. These districts are mostly concentrated in the highly contested south and east of Afghanistan, but a number of districts in the north and the west are being included in this joint civilian-military effort.

The first targeted districts are in the Taliban stronghold of Helmand Province, specifically in the central Helmand River valley. Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and ISAF will "clear" the districts of insurgents, and the most important service delivery ministries, including Health, Education, Agriculture, Rural Rehabilitation and Development, and Justice, will immediately roll out an integrated package of services to respond to the population's most basic needs.

President Karzai has instructed the Independent Directorate for Local Governance (IDLG) to coordinate the Afghan-led effort, which includes appointing strong provincial and district governors and organizing district councils. Even though the United States, United Kingdom and other key international actors are providing the IDLG and relevant Afghan ministries the necessary technical and financial assistance to carry out this initiative, I was impressed with the extent to which the Afghan government is in the lead.

Afghanistan's President Karzai has made improvement in governance at the provincial and district level, or sub-national governance, a key pillar of his reform agenda. Although the Afghan government has historically maintained a limited presence outside of Kabul, the insurgency will continue to gain traction as long as the Afghan population perceives its local authorities as weak, or even predatory. One of the main conclusions of President Obama's strategic assessment of the U.S. Afghanistan-Pakistan policy is that we must help make local Afghan government more visible, capable, accountable, and responsive to reduce the "governance" space of the insurgents in politically and economically strategic districts. Together with the international community, the United States has realigned its assistance strategy to support the Afghan government's ambitious but achievable sub-national governance plan. Improved security, governance, and development in the 80 targeted districts should reduce the attractiveness of the Taliban's brutal alternative brand of governance and, hopefully, encourage the insurgency's mid-level commanders and foot soldiers to reintegrate into normal political and economic life.

I look forward to providing an update on this important district-level initiative following my next trip to Afghanistan.

Comments

Comments

Ron
|
New York, USA
February 18, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

sub-national?

Government-in-a-box?

if you want a national government get a Real President in Kabul and put Karzai-in-a-box you will de-opiumize Helmand and get sub-national security

Malek Q.
|
Jordan
February 18, 2010

Malek Q. in Jordan writes:

I red this article and I'm glad there is improvement in Afghanistan , I was thinking though as Important it is to stop the Taliban from getting money for their insurgency and Terror Campaign , its also important that the world makes an reconstruction program for Afghanistan and that might be challenging because this might need funds , since Europe and USA have economy problems those funds would be hard to find . I was thinking that the Taliban get their income through two ways , First the Drugs Income , Second the protection money many logistic companies pay to Taliban so they can get USA army supplies safely through areas were Taliban control to USA army bases . even if USA and NATO do well in the military operations with out reconstruction USA and NATO in my opinion wont succeed . And there are many challenges such that Afghanistan hasn't an good Infrastructure .

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
February 18, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Hey Ron,

Perhaps a little perspective will do you good...

Look at the problems Obama has had "changing the tone" in Washington....you think Karzai has it any easier in his country?

We kind of take for granted our federal system without remembering the hassles involved in finding balance between state's rights vs. federal rights.

We fought a bloody war over it, remember?

So have a little patience with folks as they try and figure out a system that works for the Afghan people. That the international community can indeed support that effort is only because we've learned these lessons the hard way long ago.

There's a really steep learning curve involved here, and I personally believe the Afghan people are up to the task, and have the heart to make the best of it.

Ron
|
New York, USA
February 22, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

Perspective is a point of view....

Karzai is corrupt...runs Helmand/Marjah pays for the taleban and AQI and IED's which kill our troops....CIA pays his brother; who runs the drug and arms trade..the truth is...this PR program of local governance is a sham...Drones keep killing civilians..10 years in Afghanistan..give it all a rest.it will do ya good!...

Ron
|
New York, USA
February 22, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

Please see Qatar section for Afghan post.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
February 23, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Ron,

Inuendo without proof, acusations you've heard and repeat here, it means nothing without sourced facts to back up with. It's always easy when the team is not doing all that well during it's season to replace the coach before spring training. But that won't solve Afghanistan's problems. The trouble with trying to be all things to your people is you become less than nothing to most, if you lose your sense of self. I think Karzai is trying hard to properly define his role as head of state, just as Afghans themselves are trying to determine their role in their government, and it's as I said, "a steep learning curve", of self-discovery in this case. No easy path does he tread. Even if he were superman folks would try and belittle him, acuse him of failure of character, and worse. That's easy to do if you have no wish to see a success story happen for the Afghan people, or for the US. So which is it Ron?

You feel like posting sourced facts that can be checked out by one and all, or are you just making conversation? It's one thing to say it, but another to prove it. Where I come from, the only defense against a charge of libel is to prove it true. That's the viewpoint as I see it, standing in your shoes. You do know what libel is? As it's different from slander in that you put false accusation in writing. You state it as fact, not opinion or viewpoint, which might have qualified as "your opinion" rather than libel. In a world where what you say can and most likely will be used against you in a court of law if someone decides to sue you, that's not exactly the smartest thing I've ever seen you post. But hey, I'm not trying to get you paranoid, just thinking is all. Don't believe everything you think, question authority and demand the truth, but be willing to investigate it exhaustively until you can prove what you think to others, as the truth. That's excercising intellectual honesty. I'll reserve judgement till all the facts are in. So you have your chance to convince me. If you decide to take me up on it.

Ron
|
New York, USA
February 28, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

Afghan War is all wrong....attempts at intimidation does not change the facts. The next post I expect to read is "not supporting the Afghan War is unAmerican.

Ron
|
New York, USA
February 28, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

Afghan War is just plain wrong.

Nice try with all your pseudo-patriotics.

Thank you.

Ron
|
New York, USA
March 1, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

Pop Quiz: Afghanistan

1- If Osama is in Waziristan, why are we in Afghanistan?
2- If Taliban is allied with AQI, why are we talking about talking with them?
3- If Afghan Opim finances AQI; why didn't we deal with Helmand 10 years ago?
4- How is Pakistan like Cambodia (compare or contrast).
5- What is "government-in-a-box" and how does this concept relate to indigenous governance?

6- Extra Credit: How can financing of terrorism and economic development goals be met simultaneously in Aghanistan?

Ron
|
New York, USA
March 9, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

Corrupt Local Law Enforcement....

Why shouldn't they be? Helmand/Kandahar police are close to the Opium-Action; they are addicted because they can seize drugs at will...they use the drugs and cut the traffickers and dealers loose....they hand
over some drugs to higher-ups (who are in the Opium-Terror-Finace chain), and the beat goes on. USG must be blind to reward drug-free provinces with $1 million...This is just bait and switch...very expensive self-delusion...if,according to a 3/9 GAO report, Afghan Police are drug-dependent/addicted, they should not be on the job but in rehab. These problems mut be solved way upstream in Kabul.....not in the Opium-Epicenters.

Guriya
|
Massachusetts, USA
May 6, 2010

Guriya in Massachusetts writes:

Hi, would you know where we can get a list of the 80 critical districts the U.S. is supporting in Afghanistan?

.

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