About the Author: Hila Hanif serves in the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
What better way to tackle challenging border control issues, including narcotics-smuggling and criminal threats, than to visit others who are addressing the same challenges? This week, a delegation of Afghan officials visited the United States for just that reason. The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security hosted a group of officials from Afghanistan's Customs Department and Border Police and took them on a tour of several facilities in Washington D.C. and in Texas. The two agencies represented by the delegation have been working hand-in-hand with U.S. officials on a number of challenging customs and border issues, including airport security in Afghanistan.
Among the important functions of the Customs and Borders officials is interdiction of ammonium nitrate, the primary component used to make Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). IEDs are the number-one killer of troops and Afghan civilians, and the Afghans have made great strides in their interdiction efforts. During the visit, Director General Kammawie, head of Afghanistan's Customs Department, noted the importance of continuing to build the capacity of these two departments to, among other things, collect much-needed revenues for Afghanistan and reduce its dependency on foreign aid. The cooperation between Afghanistan and the United States on border issues is a great example of how the work we are doing together contributes to the safety and security of both countries' citizens.
The visit also caught the attention of Texas media, who wrote the article available here.