Local News

Peacekeeping Mission Warms Cold War Aftermath

Posted September 17, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— During the cold war, it was "us vs them" -- Capitalists against Communists -- freedom fighting oppression.

Back then, we focused on slogans. Now, the focus is on peace and people.

Troops from Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division are training soldiers in countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. In Russia there are new faces to replacing old enemies, and WRAL-TV5'sTerri Grucamade the trip to Kazakstan to find out how.

Kazakstan was the second-largest state in the former Soviet Union and won its independence six years ago. While its people have kept many traditions alive, Kazakstan is a country in transition. It is rich in culture and agriculture, but still very poor.

Professor Shel Hulac says there have been many changes in the economy.

Many in Kazakstan make their livings by farming. Hadicha Haitmetova's family is one of 15 families who harvest onion fields. She is old enough to retire, but she good-naturedly continues to work because, she told Gruca through an interpreter, there is much to be done.

Each family working the harvest earns the equivalent of only $15 per month.

The people of Kazakstan live relatively simple lives. They have very little in the way of material things, but they want Americans to know that they are very proud of what they do have.

Haitmetova says they have all that they want or need.

Some, however, worry about the stability of the newly independent country. Kazakstan is a nation surrounded by countries in turmoil, such as Iran, Afghanistan and Russia. That's why seven nations, including Turkey and the US are coming in to help.

Many say they respect Americans for assisting with Kazakstan's transition, because America represents the freedom they sought for so long.

Gruca is traveling with units from the 82nd. Her reports continue through this week.