Oruzgan Province

Oruzgan Province

The province of Oruzgan and its districts of Tarin Kowt, Chora and Deh Rawood.


Most ADF and Dutch personnel are deployed in the southern province of Oruzgan [Uruzgan], based in or around the provincial capital of Tarin Kot [Tirin Kot/Tereen Kot], and in the districts of Deh Rawod and Chora.


Context Analysis / Uruzgan Province, Prepared by the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan

Dutch government analysis of geographic, social and political context.
Table of contents, PART ONE: Analysis of the Provincial Context:

1.1 Socio-economic data (per District),
1.2 Culture
1.3 Tribal structure (description of ethnic constitution, distribution over the Province, power structure)
1.4 Conflict analysis
1.4.1 Conflicts of ethnic origin
1.4.2 Access to resources: land, water, wealth
1.5 Power Structures
1.5.1 Formal (Shura, Governor, Provincial Council, Provincial Development Committee, District Committees, Sectoral Departments)
1.5.2 Informal (shura’s, ulema’s, local power bearers, etc)
1.5.3 Religious networks
1.5.4 Evolution of the balance of power
1.6 General development analysis
1.6.1 Overview of implementation and monitoring capacity
1.6.2 Overview of activities and results of previous development programmes

Oruzgan Province, Wikipedia

Provincie Uruzgan: Uruzgan Weblog [Dutch and English]

Best resource on all aspects of the Afghanistan conflict, with large number of categories. [For Dutch-English translation: Babel Fish.]

Tarin Kowt/Kirin Towt: Uruzgan Weblog [Dutch and English]


Marines Deliver in Mountain Storm, Colonel Kenneth F. McKenzie, Major Roberta L. Shea, and Major Christopher Phelps, U.S. Marine Corps, Proceedings, Naval Institute, November 2004

The following description of Oruzgan and the Tarin Kowt basin is drawn from an account of the 2004 US Marine Expeditionary Unit’s (MEU) pacification of the region:
“By way of bone-jarring routes leading north from Kandahar City, there are only two main passes that afford operational access to Oruzgan Province. They cut through the 8,000-foot ridgeline that separates Oruzgan from Kandahar Province and were to occupy much of the MEU’s attention as it transitioned to Tarin Kowt, the capital of Oruzgan.

“Oruzgan Province stretches about 130 miles north to south and 95 miles east to west. With poor unpaved “roads” and deep, narrow passes, Tarin Kowt was home to Mullah Omar and his family during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. The province, long considered a Taliban stronghold, is suited ideally to insurgency because of its geography and isolated populace. It is dominated by some of the most hardline ethnic Pashtuns in the country—people who reflect the rugged mountains around them.

“At the heart of the MEU’s area of operations (AO) was Tarin Kowt, a small town of 17,000. The lush vegetation that follows several watersheds leading down to the town contrasts sharply with the steep, arid mountains that surround it. At the bottom of the Tarin Kowt “bowl” (at 4,400 feet) was an old abandoned dirt airstrip that became the centerpiece of the 22d MEU’s air-ground operations.”

Politics and administration

Uruzgan, Wolesi Jirga & Provincial Council Elections, Afghanistan 2005 Elections, Joint Electoral Management Body

Afghanistan: The Problem of Pashtun Alienation, International Crisis Group, Asia Report No. 62, 5 August 2003

“In the governance and security vacuum left by the fall of the Taliban, the efforts of Pashtun warlords to cultivate a tribal support base has exacerbated subethnic divisions and even marginalised non-dominant groups. Ghilzai who live in predominantly Durrani areas, for example, sometimes complain of harassment, seizure of property, and discrimination from Durrani warlords. Ghilzai farmers in Kandahar province say they are only allowed to hire Durrani workers.96 Often the excesses of warlordism are directed at those least able to protect themselves, namely minority groups. More powerful than the Durrani/Ghilzai divide, however, are the identities of individual tribes. Animosities between particular Durrani tribes far exceed any ill feeling between Durrani and Ghilzai, for example. In some cases, bitter longstanding feuds exist within tribes. Of the six principal Durrani tribes, three now enjoy special political influence in the south. The Barakzai, present in significant numbers in Kandahar, Helmand, and Farah provinces, retain their traditionally dominant role, with the Kandahar governor, Gul Agha Sherzai, belonging to a Barakzai lineage. The Popalzai, a large tribe in both Kandahar and Oruzgan provinces, are led by the family of President Hamid Karzai. The Alikozai of Kandahar include the veteran mujahidin leader Mullah Naqibullah, who was President Rabbani’s main regional ally during the pre-Taliban period and retains links to the Tajiks at the centre.”

UN system to explore the possibilities of sustained presence in Zabul and Uruzgan, UN News Centr, 24 April 2006

“Jean Arnault, the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Afghanistan (SRSG), led the first high-level United Nations mission to these two provinces. The purpose of the mission was to explore the possibility for the United Nations system in Afghanistan to take humanitarian and development programmes to these provinces through a sustained presence. Whilst there have been some activities by UN agencies, these have largely been humanitarian or emergency programmes, and there has been limited access to most districts in these two provinces, due to the security situation which has been a constraint to regular programming for longer-term development.”


US to support Diggers in Afghan region, AAP, 16 April 2010

The United States is likely to provide key combat units to support Australian troops as the Dutch withdraw from Oruzgan province in Afghanistan, Defence head Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston says. Air Chief Marshal Houston said discussions with US Admiral Jim Stavridis this week were preliminary and the plan is yet to be considered by either the US or Australian governments or NATO.

He said someone needed to replace the Dutch who had provided key enabling forces used by Australian troops in Afghanistan. “The intent is to replace the combat enablers with American forces. That is quite logical and probably what I would have expected,” he told journalists.

Since deploying into Oruzgan in 2006, Australian troops have operated under overall Dutch control, relying on Dutch transport and attack helicopters, jet bombers, heavy artillery, hospital and much more.

Follow-up vital after insurgency is broken, says Dutch general of Afghanistan, Mark Dodd, The Australian, 18 February 2010

A major US-led counter-insurgency operation under way in neighbouring Helmand province would further stabilise Oruzgan, he said.

PRT Tarin Kot Provincial Reconstruction Team, GlobalSecurity.org

Uruzan Weblog: Australie/Australia

Well-organised large Dutch NGO website, with materials in English and Dutch [for functional Dutch-English translation try Babel Fish.]

Counterinsurgency diplomacy: Political advisors at the operational and tactical levels, Dan Green,  Military Review, May-June 2007

“In Afghan provinces such as Uruzgan, the homeland of Taliban founder Mullah Omar and the site of an active Taliban insurgency, DOS personnel have played an integral role in a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy. What follows are some thoughts on how the DOS may want to incorporate its priorities more fully into a military effort. They are gleaned from the author’s one-year tour as the PRT political advisor (POLAD) in Uruzgan.”

Afghan Province’s Problems Underline Challenge for U.S. Resilient Insurgency, Corruption Keep Uruzgan a ‘Last Frontier’, Griff Witte, Washington Post, 30 January 2006

“Every time U.S. troops have managed to seize a portion of Uruzgan province, this remote, ruggedly beautiful region of south-central Afghanistan, enemy fighters have simply slipped away and found new hiding places among its endless craggy hills and hollows. As one senior U.S. military official describes it, Uruzgan is “the last frontier” — a place that exemplifies why the international mission to secure Afghanistan still has a long way to go, why well-intentioned foreign assistance often ends up in the wrong hands, and why — more than four years since the defeat of Islamic Taliban rule — the insurgency has proved so difficult to defeat. “If you made a list of provinces from one to 34, where is Uruzgan in terms of progress in the security environment? It would certainly be toward the bottom,” said Army Lt. Gen Karl W. Eikenberry, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In many ways, Uruzgan is stuck in a vicious circle of danger and neglect. While many other provinces forge ahead with reconstruction, work cannot begin in earnest here until the security situation improves, because most aid organizations and contractors are too fearful to set up shop. But the security situation, officials said, is not likely to improve until Uruzgan gets more schools, hospitals, roads and jobs. Right now, all are in short supply. Over the past four years, the insurgents have repeatedly resisted U.S. military attempts to drive them out, instead moving among havens within the province. Last year, despite aggressive tactics by U.S. forces, military leaders say they lost ground in many areas.”

Topic: Afghanistan (Oruzgan) Taliban, Answers to questions on notice from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Additional estimates 2006-2007; February 2007, Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

Senator Evans asked:

In response to a Question on Notice (No.4969), the Government claimed that it does not have exact figures on the number of attacks on schools and how many have closed in Oruzgan. Can the Department provide whatever information it has on attempts by the Taliban to disrupt civil society in Oruzgan and how successful attempts to counter these attacks are?”


Information not already in the public domain on attacks and attempts to counter these attacks, is classified.”

Topic: Afghanistan administration, Answers to questions on notice from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Additional estimates 2006-2007; February 2007, Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

“Senator Evans asked:
In response to a Question on Notice (No.4969) about the former Governor of
Oruzgan appointing a Popalzai-dominated administration at the exclusion of other groups and tribes, the Government responded that ëany decisions made by a former governor would be an internal matter for the Afghanistan Government.

a)  Given the centrality of ethnic and tribal political exclusion to the conflict now
raging in Iraq and the priority that the Coalition has placed on solving that problem, why is the same priority not being attached in Afghanistan?

b)  Is the response that the Government gave in its answer to the Question on Notice typical of policy that the broader Coalition in Afghanistan shares?”


a)  The Government places a high priority on returning Afghanistan to political
stability and security. The evidence of this is our military deployments.

b)  It would not be appropriate for the Australian Government to characterise the policies of our international partners in Afghanistan on this issue.”

Social issues

UN Says Up To 90,000 Afghans Newly Displaced, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Reuters), 4 October 2006

“The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says fighting between NATO-led troops and militants in Afghanistan has displaced between 80,000 and 90,000 people in recent months. Agency spokesman Nader Farhad said most of the displaced are from the southern provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, and Oruzgan.”


Provincial Map: Uruzgan, Afghanistan Information Management Services (AIMS) [pdf, 576 KB – very detailed]

Provincial Map: Uruzgan, Land Cover, AIMS

District maps, Uruzgan Province, AIMS

Detailed clickable maps of Chora, Day Kundi, Dihrawud, Gizab, Khas, Kijran, Nesh, Shahidi Hassas, Shahristan and Tirin Kot District

Tirin Kot, District Map, AIMS

Afghanistan Topographic Maps with background, AIMS

Uruzgan province is covered by maps PI41-08, PI42-05, PI41-12, PI42-09, PI41-16, and PI42-13.

Tarin Kot [provincial capital] maps, weather, airports and links, Falling Rain Genomics

See also

Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Additional research: Ronald Li
Updated: 18 April 2010