By Staff Sgt. Marcos Alices (Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan PAO)October 10, 2009
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Success in the war in Afghanistan depends on winning the confidence of the people. U.S. forces attempt to achieve this goal by increasing reconstruction activities and changing the way U.S. troops interact with the Afghan population.
Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan is reaching out to the community as they establish only the second humanitarian assistance yard in Afghanistan.
"The military version of the Red Cross [...] we are providing needed supplies to communities around the region," said Spc. Antonio V. Charles, a JSC-A humanitarian assistance specialist from Newark, N.J.
The program started in 2005 at Bagram Airfield. The yard's purpose is to provide timely disaster and emergency relief to local Afghan communities. Poverty, famine, droughts and years of war have created a need for such a facility. It is a storage and distribution center for humanitarian aid supplies such as food, clothing, school and medical supplies, and certain household items.
"[The humanitarian assistance yard] will allow many Afghan families whose homes have been destroyed or damaged to stay put and rebuild instead of evacuate," said Sgt 1st Class Corey L. Garner, a JSC-A humanitarian assistance noncommissioned officer from Aliceville, Ala. "By staying, they can continue to use local merchants and services and build the community back up, and possibly bring in opportunistic businesses."
The Kandahar Airfield humanitarian assistance yard was initiated early this year in an effort to efficiently distribute supplies. The yard will support the southern and western regions of Afghanistan while the Bagram facility supports the northern and eastern regions.The yard here is expected to begin supply distribution Oct 15.
"It [the humanitarian assistance yard] creates a better working relationship with the U.S. and Afghanistan," said Garner. "It promotes economic growth. It shows that our presence here is far more than just one of conflict but of peace."
Several U.S. agencies work closely with local communities. They will identify the needs of the community and submit a request to the humanitarian assistance yard, which will coordinate, transport and deliver items. The yard's presence here has provided jobs and opportunities for the locals. Afghans will be hired to help operate the humanitarian assistance yard and will work side by side with Soldiers. All supplies stored in the yard were purchased through local vendors.
It takes more than just gathering supplies to get the yard up and running. The Soldiers working at the yard built it from the ground up. They had to do everything from conducting an initial site survey to coordinating with vendors. The humanitarian assistance yard can be compared to a warehouse. The Soldiers are responsible for maintaining records and keeping track of inventory.
"It is nice to help the people of Afghanistan and show the people another side of Americans instead of bullets and guns," said Pfc. Timothy J. Fiel, a JSC-A humanitarian assistance specialist from El Paso, Texas.
U.S. forces continue to work to rebuild the infrastructure of Afghanistan with programs such as the humanitarian assistance yard. U.S. forces along with their coalition partners will focus on bringing stability to the country, so it can have the ability to deliver basic services to its population.