KABUL, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Transatlantic Afghanistan District Commander U.S. Army Col. Kimberly Colloton attended a special ribbon cutting ceremony marking the turnover of a newly completed Women’s Participation Program Compound located within the Afghan National Police Complex in Kabul on September 13.
“This turnover marks a strong step forward, and the facilities create a solid foundation, for the future of the Women of the Afghan National Police and enables their participation in the continued efforts to maintain a secure and stable Afghanistan. I’m really proud of my team’s hard work to deliver this project,” said Colloton.
Also in attendance were Rula Ghani, wife of President Ashraf Ghani, the current First Lady of Afghanistan; Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak, minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development in the Afghan government; Fauzia Kofi, Chief of Women's Affairs within Parliament; and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robin Fontes, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan commander.
This project was a collaboration between USACE, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan and the Afghan Construction Companies Umbrella (ACCU), who performed 70 percent of the design and construction efforts with 85 percent of the materials being procured locally from Afghan vendors. ACCU employs women in both management and project level positions.
This was the first Women’s Participation Program project for ACCU, but they have constructed approximately 40 million dollars’ worth of projects with the Corps of Engineers in Afghanistan.
“Our mission is bigger than building facilities,” Colloton stated. “Throughout the entire construction process, we strive to provide opportunities to employ, and mentor Afghan engineers, builders and tradesman, for they, and the facilities that they deliver enable the security forces, and are the cornerstones for building a solid future for Afghanistan.”
Additionally, eight Afghan University students sponsored by ACCU, along with four of their eight women employees had key roles on this project.
“The work is being done by those who are the most committed to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Afghan companies putting Afghans to work. And now, more than ever, women are among those contributing, putting bread on their family’s table and hope in their hearts,” said Colloton.
There are more than three thousand women currently courageous enough to serve in the Afghan National Police with a near term goal of enlisting five thousand or more.
Maj. Gen. Fontes, CSTC-A commander, spoke during the ceremony and explained how it is our collective goal that these facilities be a place where women feel safe and cared for and respected.
“The compound that we dedicate today is for them. It includes a Family Response Unit – built as a safe place for victims to come in and report domestic abuse like rape or receive counseling,” Fontes said. “These facilities are all centered on serving the women who serve their country.”
In addition to taking control of CSTC-A earlier this year, Fontes also assumed the role of deputy chief of staff, security assistance for Resolute Support headquarters. CSTC-A is part of NATO’s Resolute Support mission aimed at developing Afghan security forces. It provides resources and training in areas such as management and sustainability.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Transatlantic Afghanistan District continues to play a vital role in international efforts to establish a secure and stable Afghanistan. As of 2016, USACE managed a 10.8 billion dollar construction program, and had completed 1275 projects valued at more than 8.8 billion dollars in construction.
The dedicated military and civilian personnel who have deployed to Afghanistan during the past 16 years have helped our Afghan Partners build a solid foundation on which to continue their growth toward stability and peace.