LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The term "Extreme Makeover" has become a recognizable in relation to reality television shows, where one's dream home or dream self can be realized on television, while millions view the transformation. Now, thanks to Soldiers in Logar province, Afghanistan, the term has taken on a much more valuable meaning.

Soldiers operating in Charkh district recently began working with local nationals to improve their communities' one project at a time through the "Extreme Makeover" program.

The goal of the program is to communicate with local village leaders and encourage them to develop their communities on their own. After the projects are completed, International Security Assistance Forces will reimburse the money that was spent on each project up to $5000.

"We are trying to just talk to the locals and see what they need because they are turning towards the enemy just looking for simple handouts," said U.S. Army Spc. Justin Morris, 3rd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

"We are just trying to give them jobs and help them out where we need too," Morris added.

By providing the locals with jobs in their own community, people may stop turning to the Taliban for financial assistance and become more self-sustaining. In the past, when locals have turned to the Taliban for financial assistance, they were given money to attack ISAF Forces, said locals and military officials.

Although the locals may have had no malicious intent toward ISAF Forces, their financial needs at times make it easy to do what they see as necessary to provide for their families.

"Some of the reasons they fight right now is because they don't have enough water to grow their crops," said Army Capt. Jason Wingeart, commander, Company B. "Therefore it lowers the amount of money they are going to earn and if they don't have money they can't put food on their table."

Hopefully, the projects will not only help decrease Taliban influence in local communities, but will also encourage locals to take responsibility for the development of their own communities.

"What we want to do is tell you to start work on that project," said Army 1st Lt. Ryan Adams, 3rd Platoon, B Company executive officer, to a village elder who expressed concern about building a footbridge. "Once you are finished with that project you are going to call us and we are going to come down here and look at the project and then we can give you the money for it."

While Extreme Makeover projects have been well received, it will still take time for marked progress to be seen in villages.

"There is a change in the people," said Wingeart. "It's sometimes hard to see, but they are starting to come on board."

The Extreme Makeover project is a very new concept and has only begun to be introduced to the populace and implemented by Task Force Spartan Troops with 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment. If the project catches on effectively in Logar province, ISAF officials hope to implement throughout Regional Command East.

Page last updated Thu September 10th, 2009 at 08:27