Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Friday, October 12, 2012

Alum describes work, need in Afghanistan

Group of men with buckets and poles.

Isaac Eagan (center, in billed cap) and some of the men in Afghanistan who learned to make and build with concrete.

In a video, alum Isaac Eagan describes vocational training given to men in Afghanistan as part of a Spirit of America project designed to counter sources of instability that lead to extremism.

Eagan has spent the last seven months working with special operations forces in southern Afghanistan on projects to improve security, development, and governance as a field representative for Spirit of America, a non-profit organization that helps U.S. troops serving abroad assist local communities.

The vocational training video shows men in western Kandahar Province learning to make concrete and use it for construction, thereby providing them with skills that allow them to feed their families without having to resort to poppy cultivation or violence. In another video, Eagan explains the Afghan police's need for metal detectors and mirrors to search for explosives, while an isolated village near the Pakistani border needs new hand-crank water pumps.

Spirit of America has provided sewing machines, school supplies, tools, water pumps, solar lights, midwife kits, winter jackets, sandals, medical supplies and other equipment. It also gives troops access to private-sector technical knowledge on topics such as flood control, road construction and business creation.

Eagan earned a Master of International Public Affairs in 2011 and then participated in the U.S. State Department's Critical Language Scholarship program in Arabic in Amman, Jordan. He is a veteran of the Army National Guard with two tours in Iraq.