Posts Tagged ‘lashkar gah’

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Helmand Provincial Governor Mohammad Gulab Mangal presented graduation certificates to about 100 governmental staff and 120 young people who finished a week-long journalism workshop March 3.

Held in Lashkar Gah, the workshop was a collaborative effort between the Helmand Governor Media Office and the Gorbat Radio TV Network, based in Kabul.

Participants were trained in journalism theory and engaged with news writing and producing video on current issues in order to give them taste of real-world experience.

“Even though learning an entire profession is not possible during a six-day workshop, a new way studying the news and looking at the world was opened to the participants of the workshop,” said Abdul Ghafoor Liwal, director of the Regional Studies Center of Afghanistan in Kabul.

Liwal urged workshop attendees to continue to pursue their interests in journalistic fields and get as much experience as possible in those fields.

“The Journalism Training Workshop was first of its kind during the last ten years,” said Mangal, adding that including journalists in the workshop strengthened students’ knowledge building in the public affairs arena.

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Story and photos by Petty Officer 3rd Class Monique LaRouche

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan — A one-day financial course was recently offered to Afghan financial clerks by a joint pay assessment team, consisting of U.S. Army, Marine and civilian fiscal officers from Task Force Leatherneck.

“This is a basic-level introductory [class],” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Michael Caruso, an officer for the pay assessment team, Regional Command Southwest, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), and a New Orleans, La., native.

But, Caruso said the course is more than simple accounting. Topics covered included payroll processing, records keeping and auditing.

“We explain their pay charts and bonuses. They can begin to understand if problem exists, and the steps they can take to address it,” Caruso said.

Paying over 200,000 members in the NATO-led Afghan National Security Forces, which comprises the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police and the Afghan Border Police can be a challenging process in Helmand. Lack of infrastructure in the province results in very few banks or roads, so consequently, managing cash over long distances can produce, at best mistakes, and at worst fraudulent practices, the pay assessment team cautions.

For Afghan soldiers and police to get paid, each must fill out a time-and-incident sheet, which is sent to the nearest Provincial Police Headquarters. After a series of approvals, funds are released and sent to either the Afghan member’s bank via electronic funds transfer, or to a “human-trusted” agent. The agent then physically travels to each of the forward operating posts in order to pay soldiers or police in cash.

Although Afghan financial clerks have been responsible for pay in the past, the system has not had adequate checks and balances, such as properly tracking funding, equipment and services. Incorporating a sound pay system is part of the long-term plan for sustaining the Afghan National Security Forces and Afghanistan as a whole.

The first step toward a sound system is properly training the clerks.

The one-day class is not mandatory, but encouraged; while enrollment in a formal, eight-week training course is offered to participants who do attend.

“The formal training gives more instruction and a continuing partnership with the financial organization to make them better,” explained Daniel Watson, a civilian financial advisor for the Afghan National Army’s 215th Corps.

“If they come out of the one-day [class] saying ‘I want more’ then that is one of our success factors,” Watson said.

The financial classes are an effort to educate Afghan soldiers and police on what to expect with their pay and benefits as a start to establishing a reliable pay system.

“Those types of internal controls just make sure people are paid the right amount and on time,” Watson said.

“It’s best for [the financial clerks] to have training from a fiscal stand point,” said Caruso, adding that interest among the clerks is rising. He said attendance is up from four to 11 participants for this second class held in a two-month period.

“Today was a good meeting,” said Gul Rasul, a financial officer for the Afghan Border Police. “The reason I am here is [the instructors] are our American friends. They are financial officers and we learn from them.”

Rasul was encouraged to attend the one-day class by his financial mentor Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Fisher, a personnel advisor for the 6th Zone Afghan Border Police.

“My biggest responsibility is ensuring the Afghans are maintaining their accountability correctly, which directly affects the [Afghan Border Police] finance section,” said Fisher, who hails from Lillington, N.C.

Fisher explained that the finance section allocates money for salaries per the Afghan personnel rosters, in accordance with the time-and-incident sheets. The personnel section ensures their reports are accurate and submitted on time so that the soldiers and police are being paid correctly and on time.

“As a mentor I oversee this process, ensure that it is being done correctly, and provide input where needed,” Fisher said.

“The Marines have done a great job,” Watson said, adding the financial course in Lashkar Gah will help build the Afghan fiscal organization to move toward continued success. Watson also said that training and education is important to the future of Afghan police and military forces.

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From Helmand’s Provincial Media Center

Two thousand students graduated from the Lashkar Gah trainee center in Helmand province, Feb. 1. Curricula included using computers, learning the English language, sewing, electricity, carpentry, and tractor repair, among other fields.

Helmand governor Mohammad Gulab Mangal, Governor of Daikondi province Qurban Ali Rozgani, members of Afghan security authorities, Nasima Niazai, a member of the Afghan parliament, members of Helmand’s provincial council, and various other officials spoke at the ceremony.

“These youths, who were trained in a total of eight fields have the best opportunity to benefit,” Mangal remarked during his speech to students and their families in attendance. He lamented that unfortunately many other youths become addicted to the opium cultivated from poppies grown here illicitly and never have the opportunities to have better lives.

Mangal urged the graduates to continue their studies. He suggested that those who don’t care for work in the civil engineering fields should enlist with Afghan Uniformed Police or the Afghan National Army and serve their country.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Mangal distributed graduation certificates to the students.

Later in the day, Mangal and various officials cut a ribbon, inaugurating the Helmand province Lashkar Gah girls’ high school.

“Seven hundred female students will be learning to use computers, sewing, embroidery and more during two three or six month semesters,” Mangal announced.