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May 8, 2011 • NEW HAMPSHIRE SUNDAY NEWS • Page A5

Perkins sees shades of NH’s Bin Laden’s death hasn’t political spirit in Afghanistan changed security efforts in NH By SHAWNE K. WICKHAM New Hampshire Sunday News

U.S. Marine Corps Col. Richard Perkins was in Iraq soon after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and he finished a third — and final, he says — tour in Afghanistan last July. His mission this last time around was markedly different from the previous two, reflecting how the American mission itself has shifted from combat to “nation-building,� he said. Perkins was tasked with setting up customs and border patrol operations in Afghanistan. When he arrived, there were just two agents to help him; when he left a year later, there were 85 members of a task force from American government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, helping the Afghans set up facilities and training academies. In the past, Perkins said, “We have built this up around the Afghans, not through them, so they really don’t have ownership of it. Which also means we’ve got to stay there forever to run these operations.� But that’s changing, he said. The Afghans are “great people when they have ownership

of something,� Perkins said. “They’ll do it 110 percent.� Perkins believes American officials should have been paying more attention to Afghan law enforcement from the beginning. He likens it to a small New Hampshire town like the one in which he lives, where it falls to the local police to uphold the rule of law and keep the community safe and secure. His two previous tours with special forces from the U.S. Army and NATO served him well. He knew the villages, the tribal elders, the local customs. He knew what could be done, and what couldn’t.� Perkins said he doesn’t believe in “exporting� democracy, “because that’s something you’ve got to decide on your own.� But he said Afghans are “very democratic people.� “They sit down in shuras that will last six, eight hours, and everybody talks about everything.� He watched Afghans call on respected tribal elders to settle arguments and land disputes. It reminds him of New Hampshire town meetings. “It’s the same issues,� he said. With the death of Osama bin

Laden, more Americans are asking questions about why the military remains in Afghanistan. Perkins said the effort there is worth it. DEA agents are now fighting side by side with the Marines in Helmand province, trying to eliminate the opium trade that has a stranglehold on much of the country. “To me that was kind of a turning point in the mentality,� he said. “That it’s not just a military solution. However, Perkins said, if Americans are to risk their lives for Afghans, he said, “There needs to be a very clear objective on why we’re doing that.� And it can’t be just about Afghanistan, he said. “I think we need to take a look at what our long-term Central Asian policy is.� Perkins said he’s proudest of the work Americans have done to support education for Afghans, especially the women and girls. “Because that’s the future,� he said. And he’s encouraged by the uprisings against repressive regimes across the region. “It’s human nature,� he said. “You just want something better for your kids, and you want those opportunities.�

‘Granite Thunder’ posts Mother’s Day message From the “Granite Thunder� Facebook page for the 197th Fires Brigade of the New Hampshire Army National Guard, stationed in Kuwait. Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Considine posted this timely tribute to mothers, “Born Leaders,� on the Granite Thunder Facebook page on Saturday: “On behalf of the 197th Fires Brigade, I would like to wish all the mothers in the brigade, those forward deployed, and those back home a happy Mother’s Day. Throughout history, mothers have always held a place of great honor and respect within

our society and in our family as the matriarch. Mothers have always placed the needs of the family ahead of their own, and will provide and protect with their life those left in their charge. We often take these acts of unconditional love for granted, because we know that they will always be there for us, no matter what. These acts of selfless service, devotion to duty and honor are pillars of our Army values, our soldier’s creed, and are shining examples of how a true leader is supposed to be and how a real leader is supposed to act. Those of us that are forward deployed know in our heart

that we cannot accomplish this task alone, and that it takes a team effort to succeed. Leaving your love ones for an extended period of time is tough to endure for anyone. I personally take great comfort and satisfaction knowing that our families are well cared for, and are protected, because our mothers, both here in Kuwait and at home, are taking care of others. Our mothers are doing what comes naturally to them. They are our “born� leaders, our shining examples our role models, and they all deserve our respect, admiration and our love.�

O ur Staff Makes the Difference!



Still vigilant: Nothing

different is expected in air travel precautions; military agencies don’t expect big recruiting boost. By GREG KWASNIK Sunday News Correspondent

BEDFORD — The death of Osama bin Laden was a major victory in the war on terror, but security officials say it isn’t likely to change the way New Hampshire residents have lived their lives since 9/11. As news of the al-Qaida leader’s death swept across the globe last week, so, too, did a widespread fear that terrorists would retaliate against American targets. Despite that worry, security officials in New Hampshire said they haven’t received serious terrorist threats related to bin Laden’s death and have made no significant changes to how they have guarded the state for years. “I don’t think anybody is going to see any major changes or any really significant changes around the state in terms of security,� said Jim Van Dongen, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Homeland Security. “First of all, I can say that there has been no credible threat to New Hampshire.� In the nearly 10 years since 9/11, New Hampshire’s security profile has improved tremendously, Van Dongen said. Much of that improvement

Hampshire National Guard. “They have a job to do, and that doesn’t change.� And while bin Laden’s death triggered widespread celebration throughout New Hampshire and the rest of the nation, that jubilation hasn’t motivated would-be soldiers to run to the nearest recruiting office. “After 9/11, we had a huge flurry of folks looking to join the Guard, either coming from the civilian side of the house or from former active-duty soldiers that were looking to come back in,� Burnham said. “It was a huge push, but I just don’t see that with the news of this week.� The story is the same at New Hampshire colleges and universities, where students are more concerned with final exams than about signing up for ROTC programs. “It’s only been a week. We have had zero additional information,� said Col. Paul Webber, professor of military science and commander of the Army ROTC program at the University of New Hampshire at Durham. “No one’s come in saying, ‘Oh, I’m ready to join now.’� Webber said it’s too soon to tell whether bin Laden’s death will result in any long-term recruiting bump. “Kids are studying for finals and leaving,� Webber said. “Just the way our systems work and the life cycle of young men and women in college, they’re not making those kinds of decisions right now.�

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has come from increased cooperation between the state’s law enforcement agencies. “The state, almost 10 years on, is in a lot better shape to protect itself from terrorism or any other kind of disaster,� Van Dongen said. Those law enforcement agencies have also been in regular contact with the people who oversee the state’s transportation network, including Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. Tom Malafronte, the airport’s assistant director, said airport security will remain at the same heightened level it has been at for several years. “We have had ongoing discussions with local, state and federal officials, and at this point there are no specific threats and no reason to change the security status that we currently have in place,� Malafronte said. Travelers who use the airport won’t notice any changes to security, Malafronte said. “Business activity has remained the same, security lines have flowed normally,� Malafronte said. “We’ve really seen no changes.� Bin Laden’s death has also had little effect on New Hampshire troops serving overseas and at home. “Operations with our units deployed saw little change. I stay in contact with some of the folks in Kuwait and theaters around the world, and they’re still conducting missions,� said Capt. Robert Burnham, spokesman for the New

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197th FIB Mother's Day Message in UL