Coordinated effort protects Afghan voters
Afghans wait in line to vote as Afghan police provide security shortly after a polling site opens in the Khas Kunar district in the Kunar province of Afghanistan, Aug. 20. Afghans in the area participated in the nation’s second national election as they came to vote for their country’s president.

ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Aug. 20, 2009) -- Afghans took to the streets Thursday to exercise their right to vote. In the Zabul province, local authorities worked together to provide security for polling stations across the province.

The Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police and International Security Assistance Force coordinated security for more than 40 polling stations.

"The strong coordination of ANA and ISAF forces in Zabul to protect the people allowed them to vote for their favorite candidate," said Mohammad Ashraf Naseri, the Zabul province governor.

Coordination for most of the election took place at the province Operations Coordination and Cooperation Center. The OCCC served as the central hub of information for the ANA, ANP and National Department of Security in the province. All the organizations worked together to draft and implement a security plan.

During the elections, the OCCC tracked the movements of election officials, polling stations and supplies.

It also monitored for any significant events that might have disrupted the election process. The province saw little violence. There were incidents of small arms fire, mortar and rocket attacks. The polls stayed open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Many of the polls extended hours to accommodate voters.

"The international community should continue to support the security, development and the people of Afghanistan,"said Naseri. "Without the support of the international community we will not be able to provide the proper security for the people."

ISAF troops fulfilled the role of quick reaction force. They were responsible for being ready at a moment's notice to aid the ANA and ANP. ISAF troops also served as mentors. As such, they made sure the ANA and ANP execute their security plans. They wanted to ensure the Afghan people stepped up to the challenge, according to Sgt. Michael Koppenhoefer, an OCCC mentor from Chicago, Ill.

In Zabul, people were happy and going to the polling stations and voting, said Afghanistan National Army Col. Rahmuttula Spaloni, Zabul province commander.

Naseri said it was a momentous event in Afghanistan history as the people turned out to the election polls to show their support for stability and peace.

Page last updated Thu August 20th, 2009 at 13:23