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F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 2
of whom served with the U.S. Provin-
cial Reconstruction Team in Kapisa, fail
to acknowledge that the ODA worked
hand in hand with the Kapisa PRT to
conduct what they term “microdiplo-
macy.” Accordingly, I write to set the
record straight.
The ODA not only recognized the
local population’s willingness and desire
to handle their own security against the
Taliban, but took the lead in organizing
a village-based program to safeguard
critical lines of communication in the
province, primarily the north-south
highway. Working with the Tagab Dis-
trict Afghan National Police and PRT
Kapisa, we helped establish a Road Se-
curity Teamprogram. The ANP issued
clear guidance to team members on
what they could and could not do, and
provided an immediate security re-
sponse, while the Kapisa PRT paid the
program’s participants.
The first Road Security Team, con-
sisting of 20 members operating in the
northern Tagab Valley, quickly reduced
the threat along major roadways for the
local population, Afghan National Po-
lice and coalition forces. This success
instilled a sense of security, allowing the
population to take back their neighbor-
hoods from the Taliban, and has been
widely touted by the Afghan Interior
Ministry as a model for use elsewhere.
This was by no means solely an
ODA effort, for we worked side by side
with the PRT and a French unit, Task
Force Lafayatte, to build strong coali-
tion support for this initiative. But all of
us, including Operational Detachment
Alpha, pitched in to make it happen.
The article also fails to make clear
that it was the ODA that originated the
idea of creating the first farmers’ coop-
erative in the Tagab Valley, which bro-
keredmultiple deals with domestic and
foreign firms. This initiative, which
State and USAID greatly supported
and helped facilitate, was a model for
economic and agricultural develop-
ment elsewhere in the region.
It came about because the ODA
met a local farmer who sought agricul-
tural training to better cultivate his
crops using modern techniques. We
immediately met with personnel from
PRT Kapisa, the province’s agricultural
development team, USAID and State
to identify suitable projects and pursue
them.
We then organized and provided se-
curity for a shura (assembly) of more
than 200 people at the Tagab District
Center in June 2009. And following
the shura, it was the ODA that stayed
behind to ensure that the district sub-
governor worked with the farmers to
found the co-op and appoint local lead-
ers.
Let me emphasize that my intent in
writing is not to take anything away
from the valuable workMr. Deree, Mr.
Arnold and their colleagues performed.
But I believe it is important that your
readers have the full story of the team-
work involving the Kapisa PRT, State
and USAID, and Operational Detach-
ment Alpha, as well as local partici-
pants.
Without such cooperation, no single
organization could successfully aid the
local populace. But because of it, our
team made great strides in conducting
microdiplomacy in Kapisa province.
Captain Erhan Bedestani
U.S. Army
JCS Internship Program
Georgetown University
Washington, D.C.
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