NATO in Afghanistan – The soldiers of Jowzjan provinceTony wyaad October 2, 2019 2 Comments
The border province of Jowzjan in the north
of Afghanistan has a strong presence of Afghan National Army.
Although the main languages spoken here are Turkmeni and Uzbeki, in contrast to the national
languages of Dari and Pashto, the soldiers have a strong national identity when it comes
to defending their country. “We are Afghans and Muslims, this is our
country. We are here to defend our people and all our territory, our nation. If Afghans
don’t take responsibility for the security of our country, so who else will take it?”
Colonel Gulbahar has commanded the 3rd Kandak of the 1st Brigade for five years. He’s dedicated
to making sure his men are in top condition to ensure the security of the province.
“Parading is exercise. Right now, most of the soldiers are sweating. (To soldiers) Although
you only paraded a little, still you’re sweating.” “We are 80% ready to defend our people and
country because we’ve been preparing hard for this. We’re trying to increase our capabilities
and make ourselves very strong.” Jowzjan has seen a positive response to the
Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme, which helps former fighters re-join mainstream
society. With 201 Taliban enrolled in the local programme in provincial capital Sherbegan,
Colonel Gulbahar makes sure the message of reintegration is carried with his men on patrol,
even extending an invitation to his Kandak. “The door of the government is open for
everyone – we’re all from one country. This includes the ANA; it’s a joint home For Afghans
– ANP and NDS, as well. No-one can say ‘you guys are not allowed’. So it’s an honor for
us, for Afghans, if they come and join the ANA and take weapons to defend their country
by patrolling.” The Colonel’s troops run repeated training
exercises for operations. Although Jowzjan hasn’t seen large-scale insurgent presence,
there are still some attacks on Afghan and International forces in the area, as the province
is used as a thoroughfare to the western region. “Today, according to our study plan, we’ve
walked 10km to increase our physical strength, especially for during an operation.”
Jowzjan’s capital, Sherbegan, was transitioned over to Afghan security forces this year.
With Colonel Gulbahar’s leadership, it seems his men have a good chance of taking security
for the province in the future. And it seems that leadership runs in the family.
“It’s my desire, one hundred per cent, that my kids should join the ANA. Recently my eldest
finished school. He’s interested in the ANA and, of course, his father is in the ANA so
it’s his duty to work in the ANA too and try to bring security for his country and people.”
This is Ruth Owen, in Afghanistan, for the NATOchannel