TF Helmand meets with Afghan elders during jirga

Release # 2007-376

KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (May 16) - The commander of Task Force Helmand and the governor of Helmand province discussed plans for the reconstruction of Gereshk during a jirga May 10.

Officials organized the jirga, attended by 400 tribal elders, to facilitate local leader discussion about security and construction. Four hundred tribal elders attended the grand council. TF Helmand is part of ISAF.

"Development has already started in Sangin and Gereshk. We have provided support through a number of projects in Gereshk in recent months, including investment in health, education and municipal services," said Brigadier John Lorimer, TF Helmand commander, addressing the jirga.

"In addition, the Kajaki dam project will bring new roads, better irrigation and employment to the Upper Gereshk Valley," the brigadier added. "It is a great opportunity which will brighten your future. But, it needs your help and can only work if the Taliban are kept out."

This was the first opportunity for Gov. Asadullah Wafa and Brigadier Lorimer to speak to the community since the start of ISAF's current operation to clear the Sangin valley of senior Taliban extremist members. As well as commenting on the combined efforts that the Afghan National Army and ISAF troops had made to improve security, the brigadier also gave an outline of reconstruction work in the town.

In recent months officials have invested more than $900,000 to improve security, governance, municipal services and health programs in the area, he said.

The focus of the Gereshk redevelopment is on overhauling and increasing capacity at the town's hospital.

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