Afghanistan: January 10, 2005


The government estimates that there are 100,000 tons of military munitions in the country, and is finding and destroying most of it (some is given to the army). Already, some 5,000 tons have been taken care of in Herat province alone. In addition, hundreds of heavy weapons (tanks, APCs, artillery, anti-aircraft guns and mortars) have been collected. None of the warlords have tried to hang on to this stuff, mainly because they know the Americans can spot it from the air, and use smart bombs to take if out if anyone refuses to cooperate. So far, the national government has not gotten any serious resistance from the regional warlords. American troops continue to maintain good relations with most Afghans by, performing lots of reconstruction work and chasing down bandits and other troublemakers (like the Taliban). American Special Forces have used their diplomatic skills to work with local leaders and avoid raids or attacks on the wrong people. Lots of Afghans wander around carrying weapons, as they have for centuries, so American troops cant just go out and attack any Afghan with a gun. There is, however, a problem with banditry, another ancient Afghan customs. NGOs have become favorite targets, because of their obvious wealth (at least compared to most Afghans), and the fact that they (unlike the military Civil Affairs troops) dont carry guns. While NGOs often hire local security, the bandit gangs simply bring along more firepower. The NGOs have SUVs, computers and satellite phones, all popular items with Afghans. There are 300 international, and 1,500 Afghan NGOs operating throughout the country. The victims of the attacks are usually Afghan, not foreign, employees of the NGOs. Last year, 24 NGO employees were murdered during these robberies, compared to 13 in 2003. 


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