by Jake Hughes
In Afghanistan, the Taliban likes to prey upon small, poor villages. It’s their primary recruiting ground. But what if these villages were self-sustaining? Had an economy and the people were employed? Then Taliban rule would look like a much less desirable avenue. And that all starts with power—electric power, that is.
John Gerlaugh was a Marine tanker for ten years before getting out an eventually finding himself in the world of government contracting. That job taught him an important lesson.
“I guess I found out how difficult it is to do things in big organizations like the Pentagon,” he said. After leaving the contracting world for a short teaching job, he realized something about the war in Afghanistan: “It’s the villages where we will win or lose.”
A friend he worked with at the Pentagon had a background in renewable energy, and that’s where the idea for Team Afghan Power (TAP) came from.
“If you build a road, in a few years, if no one maintains it, it’s gonna fall apart. But if these villages had reliable power grid, then folks could get actual enterprise going.” And so, the team was born, a non-profit that would dedicate itself to delivering sustainable power grids for Afghan villages.
John isn’t alone in thinking this project is a good idea. He met with the Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who understands and fully supports the Team Afghan Power concept, as do other key senior and local Afghan officials. He also spoke to students of the University of Afghanistan, and received their enthusiastic support for TAP’s goals.
A site survey in the Panjshir Valley to be conducted during early 2018 will allow the team to develop the geographic and cultural detail necessary to install the first grid. You can listen to our full interview with John below. For more information, visit Team Afghan Power’s website.