FORWARD OPERATING BASE FARAH, Afghanistan (NNS) -- U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens, assistant chief of mission in Kabul, Afghanistan, completed a visit to Farah province and met with local leaders and coalition forces here, Feb. 6.
Llorens was hosted by Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah and took the opportunity during his two day visit to call on the Farah provincial governor, Dr. Mohammed Akram Khpalwak, and to engage in conversation with provincial line directors from various sectors of the government.
The meetings between Llorens and Khpalwak included Ray Sudweeks, the senior U.S. civilian assigned to Farah province and U.S. Navy Cmdr. Louis McCray, commanding officer of Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah, and was an opportunity for all parties to further strengthen ties. The leaders discussed the transition of security responsibility, the post-transition outlook in Farah, governance and development projects and an upcoming meeting of Afghan provincial leaders in western Afghanistan to discuss regional issues led by Khpalwak.
"We appreciate the ambassador visiting us here in Farah," said Khpalwak. "While we still face many challenges, we have some new, well-educated line directors who work hard for the people. This was a chance to highlight some of our successes and to share our challenges. We are happy that the ambassador is able to take some of our concerns back to Kabul."
Llorens shared the governor's sentiment and said that he would relate the priorities of the province upon his return to Kabul in addition to promoting further engagement in Farah by the ministries. The hope is that ministers will be present at an upcoming meeting of western Afghanistan's leaders to hear their challenges and address their needs.
Llorens also stressed the enduring support that the international community is prepared to provide - and the inherent responsibility of the local leadership in that process. "Both the U.S.and the international community pledged at the Tokyo Conference in July 2012 to commit significant financial resources to support development in Afghanistan in coming years. The commitment would rank Afghanistan as possibly the largest recipient of donor funding in the world," said Llorens. "The key is that the resources flow from Kabul to the provinces. You as provincial leaders have two important responsibilities to support the people of Farah - maintaining strong relationships with the ministries and providing them will well-written budgets."
The ambassador's visit wasn't all business, however, as Llorens took the opportunity to sit down for breakfast with U.S. Soldiers and Sailors assigned to PRT Farah where he listened to them share their experiences and thanked them for their service.
"It isn't every day that you have a chance to sit down with an Ambassador for breakfast," said U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Brian Mays, a medic for the PRT. "It was awesome to have a chance to ask him questions and hear what the plans for the future are in Afghanistan. This is certainly an experience I won't forget."
Llorens was equally impressed with the talent and effort of the team serving here in Farah and the impact that they're having through their partnership with the people of Farah.
"I am really proud of you guys," said Llorens. "All of us at the embassy are very proud of the work you do."
While the 2014 security transition looms on the horizon, PRT Farah remains focused on its mission to work with the people of Farah to build capacity and support Afghan initiatives.
"This visit is a testament to the hard work that the men and women of our team do each and every day," said McCray. "Whether it's on the FOB or out in the city working directly with Afghan leaders, our team has taken a focused approach to supporting governance and capacity building in Farah. These engagements help bolster their efforts and ensure that key issues get visibility from our top leaders."
PRT Farah's mission is to train, advise, and assist Afghan government leaders at the municipal, district, and provincial levels in Farah province, Afghanistan. Their civil-military team is comprised of members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
For more information about the PRT follow their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PRTFRH.
For more news from Provincial Reconstruction Team-Farah, visit www.navy.mil/local/prtf/.