The will and the way
Written by Nathan Gallahan   
Thursday, 25 February 2010 18:46

Tanji Marmor | Day 18 – It felt like we were on a safari today and Afghanistan is gorgeous.

We rode with the German’s to a place named Tanji Marmor. A German commander went there to talk with the Afghan National Police chief about a bridge that was built there. Ken and I have been looking over at the mountains for days, and dreaming about visiting the place where the two mountains meet. There’s a small stream that runs between the two of them creating a footpath that is guarded by the ANP.

When the Soviet Union was occupying this country, this pass was the site of major battles between them and the Mujahadeen. The area is littered with old Soviet tanks and they sit as testaments to Afghanistan’s 30-plus years of

war.

The ride out was scary. In some places, the roads were absolutely horrible. Our German driver was the only reason we made it through. We followed a long dirt road and passed by many Afghans. They had nothing more than their sheep or small gardens. I imagine the Afghan government and ISAF are at the bottom of their priority list, well below survival.

Before we made it into the mountains, the Afghans who lived on the flatlands lived in old tents you would expect to see in a movie. They looked almost nomadic. Then, as we entered the mountains, we started to see Afghans living out of caves. “Cave” is an inaccurate description though, because I always imagine caves as being created naturally. The Afghans dug holes in the side of cliffs to make them. I’ve always heard of people living like this, but today was the first time I had ever seen it. Unfortunately, since the windows were all muddy, and the road was all bouncy, I was unable to capture a good photo of them.

Most of Afghans looked at as curiously as we bounded past them. Ken and I tried to wave, but the windows were tinted to dark for them to see us.

Once we arrived at the ANP checkpoint, we jumped out and started shooting photos and video. With the German commander there were a few German police officers. This is where the real meat of today’s blog comes from. Everywhere I go I see all of these various organizations. I’ve seen EUPOL (European Police), German Police, United States Police, nongovernmental organizations, civilians, U.S. State Department, U.S. Aid, and others all helping Afghanistan.

When we were in the south, I didn’t see as many of these organizations, but as you travel to more secure areas, I see them more and more. One of the keys to progress here, would have to be the combination of effort between all of these organizations.

I had a chance to talk briefly with one of the German police officers and asked him what his experiences with the Afghan National Police have been like, and he told me that the ANP in this district were capable, but the ANP in other districts still have a way to go. The ANP police chief also mentioned this, attributing the lack of capability in other districts with the lack of proper training and equipment. He attributed the successes in his area directly to the training and mentoring they have received from the German police officers.

Time, training and material are quickly becoming a recurrent theme throughout my experiences. It seems to me the Afghans have the will, we just need to help provide the way.

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Comments (5)add comment

Jurček said:

NGOs
Nathan,

you visited the pass, there is the ANP guarding and you mentioned severe fighting in the past. Is the pass some strategic point and why? I have learned something new - people in the caves. Today and yesterday you refer to NGOs. Can you get some of their perspective about the Afghan story? Here we talk about nomads and people in the caves, what about refugees or internaly displaced people because of current or still of the past conflicts. Have you seen them or talk to them?
 
February 26, 2010
Votes: +0

dennis said:

...
OK must admit Im sure your having way to much fun here.smilies/wink.gif luckysmilies/grin.gif
 
February 26, 2010
Votes: +0

Kristin Swanton said:

...
Another comment too! There's been more news recently about developing tourism in Northern Afghanistan, especially for hiking enthusiasts. I'd be interested to know how and if these nomadic communities will be included in decisions about tourism. Since the North is now the safest region, I'm sure a lot of changes will be taking place that will upset these communities and as an anthropologist, I'd be interested to know how they factor into these changes.
 
February 26, 2010
Votes: +0

Kristin Swanton said:

...
Nathan,

Did you get any opportunities to interact with these nomadic communities? I bet because of their isolation, a lot of people don't talk to them or consider them when decisions are made. I'd be interested to know their opinions of the Taliban and all of this foreign aid/military effort thats been flushed into their country.
 
February 26, 2010
Votes: +0

Alan Krutchkoff said:

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Great stuff! I never got to see that when I was there. Just gorgeous!!! Sounds crazy by "you lucky so and so's" hahahaha
 
February 26, 2010
Votes: +0

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