Dispatch: Afghanistan – ‘Security Is Not Enough’

BY Larisa Epatko  July 27, 2010 at 12:45 PM EDT

Correspondents from our partners at GlobalPost are getting an on-the-ground look at the challenges U.S. and Afghan forces are facing and documenting their reporting in a blog called “Dispatches: Afghanistan.” Each week, we’ll check in with them here on the Rundown to get an update from the frontlines.

In Kandahar City, Lt. Col. John Voorhees stops his convoy to help an Afghan child who has been hit by a car, which causes him to miss a meeting of elders to discuss the military buildup in Kandahar, reports GlobalPost’s Kevin Sites, who is embedded with the U.S. military in Afghanistan through the summer and fall.

The move embodies the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy of commander Gen. David Petraeus, which centers on responding to critical human needs first, and exemplifies the decisions U.S. military leaders make everyday in the war.

Voorhees, a military police commander, says this decision was easy: “I have children myself,” he says, according to Sites. “I would hope that if I wasn’t there someone would stop to help one of my children.”

But his mission in Afghanistan — of setting up a more effective police force in Kandahar — will be more difficult, he says: “I want to go beyond security. Security is not enough — we need to help establish the rule of law and the way I see it, that’s a three-legged stool of enforcement, prosecution and punishment.”

The $5 Million Convoy

In a video report, Sites explains how American troops are using increasingly expensive vehicles to detect improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, but insurgents are using materials such as wood and plastic to build bombs so that they’re almost impossible for sophisticated military hardware to detect.

In another blog post, Ben Brody describes the makings of a unit in the Afghan National Army as they go through basic training.

“In the next few weeks, the Afghan unit is to be replaced by a new group fresh from basic training and the U.S. infantrymen are hopeful that they’ll be able to mold them into better soldiers than their current counterparts. They may be able to train them to exercise better fire discipline but unless the Afghan National Army can attract recruits more motivated than Kandahari teenagers desperate for any kind of work, it’s unlikely the new unit will impress the U.S. infantrymen,” Brody writes.

Tune in to Tuesday’s NewsHour for more on the political and media fallout from the leak of secret Afghan war records.