Afghan security forces plan for election
Representatives from the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police and National Directorate of Security held a meeting in coordination with the International Election Commission to discuss election security with Panjshiri parliamentary candidates, Aug. 22.
Members of the Task Force Wolverine Embedded Training Team with the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team, the PRT director and the deputy governor of Panjshir attended the meeting at the Panjshir Operations Coordination Center-Provincial.
The meeting was held to provide the candidates a preview of the security plan for election day and allow them to voice their concerns regarding security.
ANA Col. Rajab Khan, commander of the Panjshir OCC-P, opened the meeting and shared the security plan for the 76 election centers in the province with the candidates.
“I’m happy that all the security forces are coming together to ensure security,” said Rajab through an interpreter. “This security is for the candidates and the people. We want it to be successful with no problems.”
U.S. Army Maj. Clayton Gardner, Task Force Wolverine Panjshir OCC-P ETT commander and Boston, Mass., native, said the election security plan helps to ensure the election is secure, fair and tamper-free.
“This planning is critical for the election to succeed,” Gardner said. “Panjshir is the model province for the country. As Panjshir goes, hopefully the rest of the country will follow.”
Gardner said the key is for the candidates and people to be comfortable when going to a polling station.
“Normally they may be uneasy in another part of the province,” he said. “If we can get them to feel comfortable, the ANA, ANP and NDS have done their job.
“We want them to feel they can move freely throughout the province to talk about their platform,” said Gardner. “Also, the population should have a feeling of security wherever they go and not fear a level of incrimination when asking questions.”
The Afghan National Security Forces took the lead together to make this happen.
“I’m very impressed with the coordination between the ANA, ANP and NDS,” said Gardener. “The U.S. is here only in an assisting role. They did everything; we are just here for fine tuning and for facilitating when needed.”
He also said the ANSF are working well together and communicating between agencies.
“For example, there was a criminal act last week and all three organizations came together and shared information,” said Gardner. “They shared notes, and the picture became a lot clearer than if the individual agencies were investigating by themselves.”
After the plan was announced, each candidate was given 10 minutes to voice his or her concerns about election security.
“I am happy about the plan for the security of the election, but I want to make sure everyone has the chance to vote, including the [nomadic herders] and women,” said Hajy Adbul Baseer, a candidate in the upcoming election, through an interpreter.
The Panjshir provincial deputy governor closed the meeting with hopes of a secure election.
“The election will shape the future of this nation,” said Abdul Kabiri, Panjshir provincial deputy governor. “The IEC is an independent institution and belongs to no one.
“Within the Panjshir province, all Afghan security forces will try their best to maintain exceptional security on voting day,” Kabiri continued. “We don’t want to jeopardize our great Panjshiri history by lowering ourselves by compromising the election.”
More than 2,000 candidates from all over Afghanistan are running for Parliament with 12 candidates running from Panjshir Province. Two candidates from Panjshir will be voted to Parliament.
The elections are scheduled to be held Sept. 18.
Article by 1st Lt. Holly Hess, Combined Joint Task Force 101