My team and I flew off to Jalalabad. our job is to evaluate Surkh Rod District, which is just outside of Jalalabad. Jalalabad is a model city. ISAF commanders want to use the “Ink Blot” method to slowly build off from successful municipalities. So our job is to find out what’s right with Surkh Rod District, and what can be replicated in other districts.
I can tell you right now that the difference between Surkh Rod and Sayed Abad, a place I travelled to about 6 weeks ago, is astounding. In Sayed Abad, we took mortar and rocket fire every night, and Taliban fighters engaged one of our Route Clearance Teams right outside a FOB gate. Sayed Abad is an insurgent stronghold, and I’ve assessed that the overall state of the insurgency can be measured by what is occurring in the district.
Surkh Rod is host to some of Afghanistan’s cultural elite, whom bring money and business to the area. From what I’ve seen, all the talk about greed and corruption that come with the business world is simply a way to ignore the true power of business: It keeps people busy, let’s them hope for a better future without using a rifle to get it, and it feeds people. Where people don’t work, read or have roads to travel on, they kill to pass the time. Where they do have those things they fight only to keep them.
Signing off for now.