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New Surge To Afghanistan Is Civilian, Not Military

JENNIFER LUDDEN, Host:

To find out more, we're joined by NPR's Kabul bureau chief, Quill Lawrence. Hi there, Quill.

QUILL LAWRENCE: Good morning.

LUDDEN: What is the scope of this civilian surge?

LAWRENCE: The budget for USAID is to four billion dollars this year, so it's a vast effort.

LUDDEN: And how's it going? I mean, what kind of challenges is this effort running into?

LAWRENCE: And it's very hard to hire qualified people in Afghanistan, which is one of the biggest problems with waste and corruption here.

LUDDEN: Would you have any sense of, you know, are Afghans receptive to these kinds of reforms?

LAWRENCE: So there's just a lot of capacity that needs to be built. And when you hear a foreign organization talking about wanting a quick impact rule of law improvement project, well, the answer of most of the aid communities, such a thing doesn't exist. You need to go through education and get an educated population that in a couple of decades might be able to improve a justice system, for example.

LUDDEN: The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, was in Kabul today as part of this civilian push. What's that about?

LAWRENCE: And she's also meeting with high level Afghan government officials, including President Karzai.

LUDDEN: NPR's Quill Lawrence in Kabul. Thanks so much.

LAWRENCE: Thank you. Happy New Year. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.