Thursday, March 11, 2010

Engineer Arif

I'm still in Afghanistan. I'll be here for the next several days and since I have no official work, I'm taking this time to reflect on my tour. I've promised an entry on Engineer Arif, so here goes...

Engineer Arif is the Nangarhar Province Director of Public Works. He is one of the few, if not the only, Line Directors who is not former mujaheddin. I like to think that most of his contemporaries have fled the country. But Engineer Arif remains. He is a well educated, smart man and could most definitely teach me a thing or two about engineering. He knows this province like the back of his hand and the PRT has been implementing his strategic road plan for the past three years. He is the only Line Director who visits his project sites and he does it on a frequent basis. He is a capable man who has relocated mosques, graveyards and hundreds of houses for road construction. He is able to connect to the populace and explain the importance of roads. He understands that roads are not only important for the economy and governance, but that they are also political. I think Engineer Arif understands the COIN fight better than most US military officers. Road projects are multi-million dollar projects and it seems like every Afghan Government Official tries to get their hands in that cookie jar. But not Engineer Arif. He is honest, talented, hard working and intelligent. He is the kind of person who shows me there is hope for Afghanistan. Hopefully there are hundreds and thousands more just like him. It has been an honor to work closely with him for the past nine months and I wish I had spent more time with him. Engineer Arif for President!

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