Soldiers in Combined Task Force Spartan's 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment are working hard to improve the Zharay district of Kandahar province by seeking out and destroying the insurgency, as well as improving the Afghan way of life through infrastructure and development, alongside Afghan security forces.
"This brigade is doing a lot of really good things. In Task Force Catamount, we are working really hard to balance the lethal operations with the non-lethal operations," said Capt. Derek Taylor, civil military operations officer for 2-87 Infantry.
Soldiers demonstrated the significant security gains being made in Zharay district by breaking ground for a new school and clinic in Kandalay, Oct. 10.
"This process has been going on for the last few months, this land was privately owned, we talked with the owner and he decided to donate the land to the government for the purpose of the clinic and the school," Taylor said. "Everyone was in agreement that this is an important thing for the future of the children, and also just for the health and well-being of the people in Kandalay as well as Sanjaray."
The Kandalay clinic and school will be permanent structures, and is a significant step for the area, because it shows how much the area has improved. The location is also ideal for the residents of Kandalay and Sanjaray.
"It is just off of Highway One, so there is a lot of access to everyone, it is right across from Kandalay, and just east about a kilometer, is Sanjeray, so it is still a short trip for them," Taylor said.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, a mullah in the Afghan National Police opened with a song and a prayer. The commander of Afghan National Police for the area spoke, as well as two prominent community leaders. The local Minister of Education, the Minister of Public Health, as well as some of the doctors and nurses that will work in the new clinic were at the ceremony.
Leaders from the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, 2-87 Infantry Soldiers and Afghan security leaders were also at the ceremony. Local village leaders and children gathered as the line ministers took turns ceremonially breaking the ground for the new permanent structures.
After the groundbreaking, Afghan security and local leaders also cut a ribbon, ceremonially opening the land for building. They also laid the first bricks of the school. After the first bricks were laid, the mullah again said a prayer for the area.
"Over the last few months we have been building a lot of temporary schools. The success of the Kandalay school has demonstrated that the local population is ready for a permanent school, so that is what we are building here," Taylor said. "I think that they are eager to make progress. I think (this demonstrates) the change of pace from fighting."
All parties involved in the planning and security have worked very hard to make a permanent school and clinic in the area possible. Afghan security forces, local Afghan leaders and 3rd IBCT Soldiers are continuing to work together to build and secure the clinic and school in Kandalay. Eventually, the responsibility for the area will be solely on the Afghans, coalition forces leaders say.
"In the future (Afghan National Security Forces) will definitely play a role in the security of this area, although we are hoping that by the time this is built, the local population will be willing to secure it themselves," Taylor said.