American Military Forces Help Rebuild Afghanistan

When U.S. troops were deployed to Afghanistan, the country was war-torn and shattered due to many years of conflict. Along with winning the hearts and trust of the Afghan people, American forces were tasked with helping to repair damaged infrastructure.


Operation Enduring Freedom entailed more than simply pushing out the enemy and restoring order. A less confrontational -- but no less formidable -- battle was waged for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. 

After a decade of fighting, Afghanistan’s already dilapidated infrastructure was heavily damaged. U.S. forces attempted to repair and improve key buildings like hospitals and schools.  A strategic decision to rely on local labor and materials infused cash into the local economy. 

Cpt. Randy Stanford: “Whoever the project manager is hires, like, 10 people. They do the work and the money goes right back into the community. That’s their biggest complaint, especially out here where they’re just farmers. You know, hey, ‘we need the money to stimulate the economy to stop guys from being insurgents.’” 

Immediate benefits of the tactic were undeniable. Long-term results, however, are subject to debate. 

Tony Leys (Des Moines Register Reporter): “Well when we pulled up it was just a rundown school, fairly significant, probably about as big as a typical American elementary school and it was just most of the windows were broken, the concrete was just completely falling apart, …fixtures were missing, it was just a total wreck and I thought, ‘Wow this place has got to be 40, 50 years old’ ... And come to learn that school had been built in 2004 with … taxpayer dollars and it was… they used local materials and local workers which in theory is a good idea to put people to work and teach them how to do it.  But in practice, this thing was falling…completely falling apart.  And to talk to the soldiers, they said they had seen that a lot.”

Excerpt from "Iowa Soldiers Remember Afghanistan," Iowa PBS, 2011