GAINESVILLE - Gainesville Kiwanis Club members Tuesday heard from a Gainesville native who now serves as a psychological consultant to the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Lt. Col. Joe Jarrard (RET.), brother of U.S.M.C. Major Kevin Jarrard, Commandant at Riverside Military Academy, said the U.S. is making progress in Afghanistan but still faces challenges.
Jarrard said one of the biggest is teaching the people how to read and how to drive and to establish a political continuity where right now there is none.
"One of the things we're spending a lot of time on is teaching them to read at the third grade level," Jarrard said. "They can't even read the serial number on their weapon to keep accountability of it."
He said that Afghanistan is now the priority now that U.S. forces are leaving Iraq and the military effort is more unified under American command than it was under NATO.
Jarrard said insurgent fighters are leaving for their villages with winter approaching and are expected to return to fight in the spring, but he predicted their return will not be as strong as it has been in the past.
Jarrard also pointed to stronger U.S. force in Afghanistan as a means of bringing peace and stability to the country.