By Erickson BarnesNovember 14, 2012
WINCHESTER, Va. (Nov. 14, 2012) -- Representatives from the U.S. and Tajikistan governments celebrated the opening of two border guard posts in Sayod and Ribhoz, Tajikistan, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Nov. 6.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Middle East District constructed the facilities under the Department of Defense's counter-narcotics program. The guard posts consist of barracks, dining facilities, administrative offices, officer housing, maintenance facilities, and dog kennels.
"These facilities, presented to Tajikistan on its Constitution Day as a gift of friendship from [U.S. Central Command] and the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, and constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers, are a testament of combined determination and cooperation from all parties to work toward safer Tajikistan borders, bolstering its counter-narcotics efforts," said Khaled Masoud, the district's lead engineer in the region.
U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan Susan Elliott attended the ceremony, along with Tajikistan's Chairman of National Security Lt. Gen. Saymumin Yatimov and the Commander of Border Guards Lt. Gen. Sherali Mirzo. Representatives from U.S. Central Command also attended. The Middle East District was represented by Masoud, who provided guests at the event with a technical overview of the facilities.
"The Tajik Border Guards are a professional and dedicated element of Tajikistan's security team," said Elliott. "It is my great privilege to support them in their valiant stand against narcotics trafficking and in securing their borders."
The donation of these facilities is the most recent of many assistance projects the U.S. Embassy has provided Tajikistan's law enforcement agencies, according to a press release from the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe. Since 1992, the American people have provided more than $1 billion in programs and humanitarian aid that support Tajikistan's democratic institutions, health care, security, education, and economic growth.
Tajikistan's Constitution Day is held annually to celebrate the adoption of its constitution on Nov. 6, 1994, after gaining independence from the Soviet Union. The Central Asian republic borders Afghanistan to the south.
The Defense Department's far-reaching counter-narcotics strategy calls for government agencies to build the capacity of Central Asian partners to secure their borders and prevent illicit drugs from entering, and ill-gotten proceeds from exiting, their region. At the next level, combatant commands are responsible for developing their counter-narcotics strategic plans in line with the DOD policy.
The Middle East District's counter-narcotics program in Central Asia is accomplished at the behest of U.S. Central Command, with projects at multiple locations in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.