By Don CicotteFebruary 4, 2009
By Don Cicotte Special to Soundoff! The Asymmetric Warfare Group hosted a special guest speaker at its headquarters on Fort Meade last week. On Jan. 29, the former interior minister of Afghanistan, Minister Ali A. Jalali, took time to speak to AWG unit members to discuss his thoughts about the future of Afghanistan and its security forces. While manning the post of Interior Minister of Afghanistan from January 2003 to Sept. 28, 2005, Jalali was in charge of the Afghan National Police, the subnational government administration, the immigration service and the national identification and registration services. Jalali is currently part of the faculty at the National Defense University as a distinguished professor in the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies and a distinguished visiting fellow in the Institute for National Strategic Studies. His focus is on Afghanistan, Central and South Asia regional issues, reconstruction and stabilization and peace-keeping operations. Jalali, who led the creation, training and deployment of a 50,000-strong ANP force and a 12,000-strong border police force, provided valuable insight to the AWG during his visit. His examples stressed the importance of the development of an effective counternarcotic, counterterrorism and criminal investigation police force. The former minister shared his experiences and challenges of when he led the operation of Afghanistan security forces in counternarcotic activities, fighting terrorism, disarming illegal armed groups, battling organized crime and illegal movement across the border. "Stopping insurgency at the border is not quick or cheap," Jalali said. Using the example, as some suggest, of building a fence along the border to stop insurgents, Jalali said that a fence is tactical thinking. Stopping the source is strategic thinking, which is what needs to occur. Additionally, Jalali stressed that the struggle is not over land - it is over time. He used the expression "long-termism" to define the mentality that must exist in order to defeat terrorism in Afghanistan and move the establishment of good governance forward. Jalali identified the removal of warlord-governors, incompetent provincial administrators, corrupt officials and ineffective police chiefs as challenges that future Afghan security forces will most likely face. Jalali also acknowledged several achievements in Afghanistan such as more freedoms for Afghans, especially women; free elections; 35 percent of all Afghan girls attending school; approximately 300 independent newspapers; at least 15 television stations, which just seven years ago were banned; better roads; and the return of 3.5 million Afghan refugees. According to Jalali, the ultimate goal of any plan to stabilize Afghanistan must include providing basic security and good governance in the districts and provinces of the country through well-sequenced and coordinated developmental interventions focusing on security, governance and reconstruction. Throwing money at individual problems wonA,A1t fix the collective challenges in Afghanistan, he said. "Without rule of law," Jalali said, A,A3a free economy just opens the door for corruption." As the visit concluded, Jalali thanked the AWG members for their role in helping further the efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. He also paused to talk with AWG Operational Specialist Master Sgt. Shawn D. Ward to sign his personal copy of Jalali's book, "The Other Side of the Mountain." "Hearing specific examples of some of the challenges we face in Afghanistan from a man with such experiences like Minister Jalali is a great value to those of us preparing to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom," said Maj. Rafael Lopez, AWG troop commander. "Minister Jalali's comments validate the importance of our Army's efforts in his home country, and our efforts to accelerate the awareness of those challenges throughout the deploying force." Cicotte is the interim Public Affairs Officer with AWG.