United States foreign assistance is helping to meet national security objectives in the frontline states of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Assistance efforts are enhancing stability and sovereignty in Afghanistan and Pakistan through targeted economic development, education, and government capacity building. Programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan are closely aligned with the overarching U.S. Government goal to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and eliminate its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future. In Iraq, USAID supports the objectives of the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) with the Government of Iraq by improving Iraq’s ability to use its own resources for its own development, security, and sovereignty. And with the transition from military to civilian lead in Iraq, the Department will be fully responsible for its own critical support functions once performed by the U.S. military, including security, transportation, and the provision of basic services. These functions are essential to maintaining the diplomatic presence necessary to continue strengthening democratic institutions in Iraq and encouraging its reintegration into the international community. With U.S. military forces withdrawn from Iraq and decreasing their ranks in Afghanistan, State and USAID programs will build upon hard- won achievements to date by continuing the development of democratic institutions, capable security forces, and sustainable economic growth.
A key goal of stabilization programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan is supporting the local population - including building capacity of Afghan government officials to respond to citizens’ needs and increasing interaction between government and citizens. In Afghanistan, each spring insurgents try to recruit villagers to take supporting roles, from providing transport and fuel to using small arms and delivering explosives. In Spring 2011, the insurgent recruitment campaign in one Wardak district faltered when hundreds of likely recruits were already gainfully employed through the USAID Community Development Project reconstructing critical irrigation systems. The project, initiated in 2010, benefited 4,320 farmers and their family members in six villages across three valleys, employing 450 villagers on any given day and a total of 2,700 workers over the life of the project. Because of the project, residents pushed back when insurgents tried to lure villagers away from the project and into the conflict. Work on the irrigation systems has continued and proceeded ever since without interference. In support of the U.S. Government’s efforts to lay the groundwork for long-term stability and transition, a 1,100-person strong civilian surge of Foreign Service Officers from the Department of State, USAID, and other agencies joined our military forces in facilitating transition and building the capacity of key Afghan ministries.
In Pakistan, U.S. civilian assistance supports the development of a stable, secure, tolerant Pakistan with a vibrant economy that can offer alternatives to extremism. Stabilization programs are addressing instability and insecurity resulting from decades of poor governance, underdevelopment, and conflict in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, both bordering Afghanistan. USAID is supporting the Government of Pakistan in making these areas inhospitable to extremists by strengthening the capacity and legitimacy of public institutions to provide security, good governance, and socio-economic development. Over 1,700 small community-based projects are helping to increase citizens’ confidence in the government by addressing immediate needs for basic services (water, power, health, and education) and providing work opportunities through the construction of infrastructure and roads. A recent evaluation of this program in Mohmand Agency geographic area affirmed that citizens are now more inclined to ask for help from their government rather than militant groups. U.S. security assistance complements these efforts by building Pakistan’s counterterrorism and counterinsurgency capabilities.
In Iraq, the Iraqi and American people share a common goal for Iraq’s future: an Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant. State and USAID work with Iraqi counterparts to consolidate gains made by previous stabilization programs in peace and security. In tandem with our military’s drawdown, the U.S. Government is engaged in the largest State Department logistical effort since the Marshall Plan to stand up a new civilian structure in Iraq to achieve our national strategic interests. USAID programs are aligned with the SFA and based on shared priorities with Iraqi partners. They focus on strengthening democratic governance, encouraging economic growth, and improving key social services. USAID works to strengthen the accountability of key Iraqi institutions such as the Independent High Electoral Commission which has successfully administered five major electoral events since 2004. The Marla Ruzicka Fund continues to assist innocent civilian victims of military operations through the USAID’s Community Action Program. Marla Fund recipients are assisted through direct medical help, replacement of damaged property, and the establishment of sustainable livelihoods after the death or injury of a breadwinner. Recipients are provided training and grants to start businesses such as grocery stores, bakeries, electronics shops or farms. To date, the Marla Fund has supported more than 3,320 individual and community projects that directly benefit innocent civilian victims. In the aftermath of the U.S. military drawdown USAID is working to build the capacity of local Iraqi NGOs and government to continue to provide such assistance.