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Lithuanian reconnaissance team returned form Afghanistan



On 30 March a Lithuanian reconnaissance team returned from Afghanistan, where it travelled to familiarise with a situation in Ghor Province, where a Lithuania-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), with assistance from other NATO forces, is scheduled to start operating in the summer later this year. Leading the Lithuanian reconnaissance team was Commander of the Lithuanian Forces in Afghanistan Lieutenant Colonel Gintautas Zenkevicius who will also act as head of the Ghor Provincial Reconstruction Team.


The Lithuanian representatives together with troops from NATO nations contributing to the mission visited Chakhcharan, located 400 kilometres west of the Afghan capital. The troops met with Ghor Provincial Governor Qadeer Alam, Police Chief Faizulah Salihe and local attorney general Noor Muhamed Kaker to discuss security concerns and examine potential sites for the Lithuania-led PRT.


Having welcomed the delegation on behalf of the people of Chakhcharan, the Ghor Provincial Governor told the guests about the situation in the province. " The people are very poor here, but they work very hard. One of the reasons the people are so poor here is because it is very cold here, " Q. Alam said. The governor underlined the importance of provincial reconstruction teams' mission in providing secure environment for the people of Afghanistan.

"We hope to work closely with you to do as much as we can, " said Commander of the Lithuanian forces in Afghanistan Lt Col Zenkevicius. " Of course, we are looking for your support because, without it, we can't be successful in our mission. We need to work hand by hand to determine how to solve your problems in a peaceful way."


Ghor Province has about 67,000 people and 383 schools. But only 20 of those schools have any infrastructure because of past action by the Taliban and other insurgents. The province has about 80,000 students, 21,00 of whom are girls. "Two days ago the new school year started, but, unfortunately, only 30 percent of the schools have books, " said the governor. There are about 20 medical clinics and one hospital for the provinceā€™s nine districts, but few of them have any infrastructure.


"This past winter, because of much snow here, the number of non-governmental organisations working here was very limited and they were practically non-functioning, " Q. Alam said. " I told the people you were coming and I promised them you were coming to help. Our people are anxious for your help, just like the other provinces being helped throughout Afghanistan by the coalition and ISAF. ". Lt Col Zenkevicius assured that the Lithuania-led Provincial Reconstruction Team would not leave the province when the winter comes. " We are used to cold winters in Lithuania. The only difference is we do not have mountains, " said Commander of the Lithuanian forces in Afghanistan.


There are nineteen Provincial Reconstruction Teams operating throughout the territory of Afghanistan at the moment. Their mission is to strengthen influence of local authorities, assist in providing security and stability, establishing conditions for the reconstruction of the country. Currently NATO is proceeding to further expand the International Security Assistance Force into the West of Afghanistan.



Based on a press release of the Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan, Coalition Press Information Centre




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