LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Seven former insurgent fighters symbolically laid down their weapons during a reintegration ceremony April 3 at Forward Operating Base Mahtar Lam, with the help of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program.
Fazlollah Mojadeddi, governor of Laghman province, told the reintegrees he was very proud of what they’ve done. He assured the seven individuals they would be safe and would be given an opportunity to find jobs upon return to their communities.
“If more fighters laid down their weapons, there would be peace, sovereignty and stability in our country,” Mojadeddi said.
The Laghman province reintegration program director, Afghan National Army 2nd Kandak, 1st Brigade, 201st Corps, and U.S. Army senior leadership also attended the ceremony.
This is the second reintegration ceremony Lt. Col. Monte Rone, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, has attended since he and Task Force Thunderhorse have been in Mahtar Lam.
He said information regarding the reintegration program is circulated via television, radio and fliers handed out by the Afghan Uniformed Police. The program offers insurgents the opportunity to return to their villages with dignity and honor.
Rone said the reintegration program began in 2010. Since then there have been 278 former fighters lay down their weapons in Laghman province. Thousands of former fighters from throughout the country have returned to communities to start a new life working to build a better Afghanistan.
“I think that is a result of the improved cooperation between the government and security forces, and also the success of (the Afghan security forces) operations,” Rone said.
Before they begin the vetting process, individuals must break their ties with insurgent elements, commit to supporting the government and must abide by the Afghan constitution. Once the evaluation phase ends, the Afghan army, Afghan National Police and the Provincial Peace committee officials evaluate the candidate.
“You can achieve effects by nonlethal and lethal means,” Rone said. “I think today was a great nonlethal engagement where our (Afghan security force) counterparts and the provincial governor were able to achieve some effects by reintegrating some pretty bad folks, and that’s always a good thing.”
Mojadeddi said the ceremony went very well and hoped other fighters would see the ceremony and would renounce violence.
“I hope others would ‘come down from the mountains,’ and be encouraged to join the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan,” Mojadeddi said.