CAMP LEATHERNECK --
Afghan media representatives got a first-hand account of the state of progress in a variety of areas including Afghan National Army readiness to the upcoming elections.
The meeting between nearly a dozen media representatives was hosted by Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills commander of Regional Command Southwest and General Malouk, commander of the Afghan 215th Corps here Aug. 7.
Mills told media representatives about the level of medical care, stating that all Afghan soldiers receive the same medical treatments as coalition service members.
Malouk added that the supplies to Afghan forces are improving as well. He met with Afghan soldiers to see for himself the quality of the supplies they use.
“When I saw that soldier, I noticed he had a better uniform than me,” Malouk said. “The food may not be of the best quality, but we are in a war zone.”
Gen. Malouk responded to questions about adequate supplies and care, stating they were false and stressed the importance of involving media to dispel false reports and accusations.
“It’s difficult to run a government without media,” Malouk said. “It’s important for us to reflect reality, the real story through our Afghan media.”
Both generals encouraged media participation and involvement as an opportunity to keep civilians informed of ongoing projects and concerns.
“This is a good opportunity for media to help us,” Mills said. “Those of you who write for newspapers, everyone reads what you write.”
Mills added that the inherent trust Afghan residents hold in their media underscores the importance of the role the media plays in the progress of Afghan development.
Reporters spoke to the commanders about the lack of information available to Afghans interested in joining the army. There is currently just one recruiting location in Helmand province. They stressed Afghans need more advertising and information as to where they can receive information to join the army.
Again, Malouk pointed out the importance of the media in building the army. He said that through their reporting, media representatives can inform even those Afghans in the most distant locations.
“If anyone is interested in joining the army, we understand it’s difficult for them to travel to the capital,” Malouk said. “We will send a delegation to those remote areas and we will bring those men here to Camp Leatherneck and give them the information they need. But we need the media to help us get the message out.”
Mills encouraged media to help publicize the Afghan army and to report on various projects underway throughout the province. He also asked for media assistance with recruiting.
“You can publicize how they can join the ANA,” Mills said. “With all the people that listen to you, you can recruit more people in one day than we can recruit with a team in a month. You are very powerful because there are many people who hear you and understand what you say, and they believe you because you tell the truth, and you tell the honest stories that will help everyone solve problems here in Helmand.”
Commanders also dedicated time to speak about the approaching provincial elections. The generals said they will be meeting in the upcoming weeks to discuss how Afghan national security forces will lead the effort to ensure safe and fair elections.